Man of Action.

AuthorStockwell, Norman

Known simply by his initials "C.T.," Vivian was a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. (who called him "the greatest preacher to ever live") and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2013. Vivian passed away just two weeks shy of his ninety-sixth birthday and on the same day as his longtime friend and fellow civil rights activist John Lewis.

A new book provides valuable insights into Vivians life and beliefs. It's in the Action, by C.T. Vivian with Steve Fiffer, takes its title from a favorite Vivian quote: "Martin taught us that it's in the action that we find out who we really are."

Bernard LaFayette, a colleague of Vivian in the 1960 Nashville Student Movement and currently chair of the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (where Vivian also held various leadership roles) agrees: "The thing about him, he didn't just talk and make speeches, he was an activist. He put his body on the line. He spoke with everything he had, including his feet. Yeah, his feet had a message. They marched."

One famous archival film clip shows Vivian confronting Alabama Sheriff Jim Clark on the steps of the courthouse in Selma on February 15, 1965. After being punched and knocked down by Clark, Vivian gets up, nonviolently, and continues his statement. The story of this incident, as well as so many others from early movement actions, make up the first part of this rich collection.

The book also tells the story of Vivian's time in Chicago, beginning in 1966 (concurrent with King's move to that city), when Vivian trained ministers in the Urban Training Center, an ecumenical effort; he was working there when King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

During his time in Chicago, Vivian also wrote his only...

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