A legendary graduate of Western Illinois University, C.T Vivian has died, he was 95 years old. Dr Vivian grabbed national headlines when, in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, working on the staff of Dr Martin Luther King, Dr Vivian stood on the steps of a courthouse trying to register black people to vote. Dr Vivian was approached by the Sheriff of Selma, Jim Clark, who proceeded to argue with Dr Vivian. Dr Vivian held his ground and continued his effort when Clark punched him in the face. The incident was captured by television cameras and it became a powerful symbol of peaceful protest versus the ugly, violent nature of southern racism of the day.
Dr Vivian worked alongside Dr King and other leaders of the Civil Rights movement throughout the 1960’s. In the wake of Dr King’s assassination, Dr Vivian kept up the fight for equality as a scholar and an author. In 1970 he penned the influential book “Black Power and the American Myth.” Dr Vivian remained an outspoken advocate for change throughout his life, eventually earning a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 from then President Barack Obama. In 2015 Dr Vivian returned to Western Illinois University where he was the Grand Marshall of the 2015 Western Illinois Homecoming Parade at the age of 90 years old.
Dr Vivian moved to Macomb with his mother in the mid 1930s. He attended Lincoln Grade School, Edison Junior High and Macomb Senior High School where he graduated in 1942 and chose to attend Western Illinois University to remain close to the community. Most recently, Dr Vivian had lived in Atlanta, Georgia where as recently as 2016 he was still giving powerful interviews recalling that day in 1965, in Selma, Alabama, when his grace and fortitude demonstrated the power of peaceful protest.
Dr C.T Vivian was 95 years old.