MLK confidante C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader, dies at 95

Civil rights leader C.T. Vivian, a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King during his crusade for racial equality, has died at the age of 95.

Vivian died early Friday in Atlanta, relatives said.

Vivian, a Black Baptist minister, was one of King’s staunchest supporters and most effective aides with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the 1960s, as the organization spearheaded a non-violent campaign to end segregation in the South.

During his time as SCLC director from 1963 to 1966, Vivian organized protests, oversaw non-violence training, conducted voter registration drives and worked on community development projects.

Vivian was known as a tireless organizer of marches, sit-ins at lunch counters and boycotts of businesses practicing segregation — measures that often resulted in violent police responses and mass arrests.

He was frequently arrested, jailed and beaten, including an incident in 1961 when he was severely beaten by guards at the Hinds County Prison Farm in Mississippi.

Vivian received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2013. His wife, Octavia Geans Vivian, preceded him in death in 2011.

Vivian is survived by five children: Denise, Kira, Mark, Anita and Albert. Another son, Cordy Vivian Jr., died in 2010.

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