Vivian’s funeral will be held July 23 at 11 a.m. at Providence Missionary Baptist. The service will be live-streamed and private.
Vivian, following the March death of the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, will be the second major civil rights figure to die and not have a big, traditional funeral because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He lived a ripe old age and made good use of his time and years,” said Bernard Lafayette, who met Vivian while he was a student at the American Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the Nashville Student Movement. ”C.T. taught lessons by the options he took, not just the words. His actions delivered the message.”
Along with Obama, the reaction to Vivian’s death was swift and emotional from the civil rights community that helped define him.
Ambassador Andrew Young, a former Atlanta mayor and himself a veteran of the civil rights movement, called Vivian “one of the people who had the most insight, wisdom, integrity and dedication.”
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and Washington head football coach Chris Petersen greet Ambassador Andrew Young (seated left) and the Rev. C.T. Vivian at the conclusion of a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl tour of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site to hear first-hand accounts from the Civil Rights leaders at the Historic Ebenezer First Baptist Church on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, in Atlanta. Curtis Comptonemail@example.com
Vivian “was a strategic nonviolent leader, a brilliant mind who believed that soul force could overpower physical force,” said Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. “I’m thankful for his legacy of service and influence, including in my father’s life.”
In his statement about Vivian’s death, Obama, who also honored John Lewis and Joseph Lowery with Presidential Medals of Freedom, noted how Vivian was “always one of the first in the action,” who absorbed “blows in hopes that fewer of us would have to.”
“He waged nonviolent campaigns for integration across the South, and campaigns for economic justice throughout the north, knowing that even after the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act that he helped win, our long journey to equality was nowhere near finished,” Obama wrote.
Working closely with him in Nashville and the early Freedom Rides, Lafayette had a special relationship with Vivian, secured as cellmates in dozens of jails throughout the South.
So Vivian’s death, Lafayette said, leaves another personal void. They always celebrated their birthdays — July 29 for Lafayette and July 30 for Vivian — together over lunch.
“I am going to miss that,” said Lafayette, 79. “I already bought his birthday card.”