December 7: Atlanta with Dr. C.T. Vivian




In the Atlanta portion of our mini-term, the phrase “being in the in the presence of the past” has felt quite literal.  Our second guest speaker of the trip was the great activist, author, and Reverend,  Dr. C.T. Vivian, a colleague of MLK and a leader of SCLC.








We spent several hours with Dr. Vivian at Ebenezer Baptist Church, discussing his memories of the movement and of Dr. King. We even convinced him to join us for lunch! Dr. Vivian is as passionate about the cause of civil rights and social equality as ever, and he shared his plans for a new leadership institute with us. His commitment and energy were inspiring.























After a dropping Dr. Vivian back at his home, we continued our westward journey to Montgomery.


Student Responses


We looked at death as normal.”

– C.T. Vivian

From day to day during the movement, blacks left home not knowing whether or not they were going to make it back. Dr. C.T. Vivian informed us that they saw and accepted things as they really were; they had to be straight forward because that was the reality of life for them. He spoke of death as if it were a daily expectation, but without fear of it. Death was the topic of discussion frequently in the home of African Americans as they wanted a spouse or other family members to be prepared in case it was to ever happen. It is mind boggling that a Black man, woman, or child had to fear for his or her life every time they left home because of the ignorance and hatred of some of their white counterparts.

In light of Vivian’s outlook of “death as normal” during the time period of the movement, it forces me to wonder if Americans today are able to fathom what that really meant, what they had to endure and what they sacrificed. For blacks, are they able to see what their parents and grandparents went through and if they understand the obligation to carry it out? For whites, are they able to understand that struggle, not for sympathy but for understanding, to contribute to the change? We all have an obligation and are equally invested the future of this country.

Liz:  Reverend C.T. Vivian was amazing and still is a strong man of the movement. He described the movement as a moral movement and related the struggle to religious views. Vivian discussed education and its importance amongst the community. With knowledge we are capable of helping each other. He encouraged non-violence, like MLK Jr., and how great it was to use this stragety in comparison to Malcolm X. He spoke of bringing the community together and creating a stronger sense of unity in our own community.

Religion and respect were very important to him and it made me realize how much I, in my own way, deserved these values. I want to be like Vivian in the sense that I want to help others in anyway that I can. He considered the Voting Rights Bill as the most important legislation in US history. This made me think about how far we have come in using and appreciating these rights as citizens. I know many people that are not expressing themselves at the poll and it only makes me wonder how do I approach this issue in my home, school, and elsewhere. We need to vote and do what we can to encourage each other to do the right thing. We have to pave the way to change. I was spritually and mentally encouraged by Rev. Vivian.

He was so humble and funny as well. Hopefully we will stay in touch and continue the path he walked so many year ago.



























Skip to toolbar