Civil rights icon Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T,” Vivian has died at age 95 of natural causes at his home in Atlanta, according to a report from CNN.
Vivian worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and participated in the Freedom Rides to register Black voters. The Boonville, MO native and his late wife, Octavia, had six children.
He was a co-founder of the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which helped organize that city’s first sit-ins and civil rights march. He would later become the director of national affiliates for the SCLC.
In 1965, film and photos of Vivian being beaten by a county sheriff while registering people to vote in Selma, AL shocked the nation and led to more support change in the country.
Later, the U.S. Department of Education would use curriculum created by Vivian to launch the Upward Bound program to boost high school graduation rates underserved communities. In the 1970s, Vivian founded the Center for Democratic Renewal, which began as anti-racism organization to monitor Ku Klux Klan activity.
President Barack Obama awarded Vivian the highest civilian honor in the nation, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2013.