C. T. Vivian Day declared in Jackson

Published: May. 31, 2021 at 2:41 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - America lost a giant in the civil right movement in 2020, with the passing of Rev. C.T Vivian. His name may not be as familiar as Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior, but King, himself, called Vivian “the greatest preacher to ever live”.

Vivian’s daughter was in Jackson May 25th and 26th to promote her father’s memoir and to receive an award in his honor.

If you go to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and look up along the walls of the Freedom Rider exhibit, you will see a mugshot of Rev. Cordy Tindell Vivian, better known as C.T. Vivian, among the many arrested fighting for freedom in Mississippi during the turbulent 1960′s.

Denise Vivian Morse said, ”After it was really organized, Dad became director of affiliates for SCLC and what he really did was travel from city to city and prep them for incoming marches.”

Denise Vivian Morse is one of Rev. C.T. Vivian’s seven children. She was in Jackson to accept the declaration of May 26th as “C.T. Vivian Day” in the capital city and promote her father’s memoir. His activism in the Magnolia State cost him a trip to Parchman Prison.

Rev, C. T. Vivian's memoir "It's in the Action: Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior"
Rev, C. T. Vivian's memoir "It's in the Action: Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior"(WLBT)

”Here at Parchman. In fact, I think this is where he had a gun pointed at him and I remember daddy saying, i said what did you do? He said I just looked him in the eye; said I really wasn’t afraid and I really didn’t think he’d do it. He said I just looked him in the eye and he, the guy, pulled the gun back.” said Morse.

It was that kind of fearlessness that led him to be punched by an Alabama sheriff in 1965 for daring to try to register Black voters in Selma, Alabama. Steve Fiffer is co-author of Rev. Vivian’s memoir “It’s in the Action: Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior.” Fiffer participated, virtually, in the May 26th, “History is Lunch” event in Jackson

Steve Fiffer said, ”Andrew Young said, if that moment hadn’t been captured on film. If Dr. Vivian hadn’t approached Jim Clark the way he had, that there might not even have been the passage of the voting rights act, so it’s a really significant moment in our nation’s history.”

Denise Morse said, ”He hated injustice. He hated cruelty and has spent his life trying to end it and he just wanted all people to live in peace and just be kind; be loving to one another. He was a man of God.”

Here’s part of what now President Joe Biden had to say about Rev. C.T. Vivian after Vivian’s death in 2020.

President Joe Biden said, ”And C.T. was truly a remarkable man. A man whose physical courage was exceeded only by his moral courage. His capacity for love overwhelmed incredible hatreds. His faith in the power of non-violence, helped forever change our nation.”

Denise Morse said, ”That’s why he loved the Black Lives Matter Movement. If you see something wrong, do something about it and that’s who he was and his slogan was, the thing he liked to say the most was ‘it’s in the action’ that you find out who you are and that’s the name of his’s in the something.”

And that, said Denise Morse, is part of why it is so important that her father’s story is told.

”And so when you read these men’s history and these women’s history, what made Fannie Lou Hamer stand up and say I’ve had enough, you know, it’s important to know who they were and what created them and I think there’s a lot of that in Dad’s book about his upbringing and how he arrived at the non-violent action concept that violence wouldn’t work and so it’s important for young people to know.” said Morse.

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