Civil Rights leader, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient dies

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Ralph Worrell, Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr., C.T. Vivian, Frederick Moore

FILE – In this April 4, 2012, file photo, civil rights activists and Southern Christian Leadership Conference members, from left, Ralph Worrell, Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr., C.T. Vivian and Frederick Moore, join hands and sing “We Shall Overcome” at the Atlanta gravesite of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., marking the 44th anniversary of his assassination. The Rev. Vivian, a civil rights veteran who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and served as head of the organization co-founded by the civil rights icon, has died at home in Atlanta of natural causes Friday morning, July 17, 2020, his friend and business partner Don Rivers confirmed to The Associated Press. Vivian was 95. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

ATLANTA (AP) – The Rev. C.T. Vivian has died at the age of 95. 

Vivian was an early ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who organized pivotal campaigns in the civil rights movement and then spent decades advocating for justice and equality. Vivian began staging sit-ins in the 1940s, a dozen years before lunch-counter protests made national news. 

Vivian helped organize the Freedom Rides that compelled federal forces to protect buses across the South. 

Vivian boldly challenged a segregationist sheriff while trying to register Black voters in Selma, Alabama. Thousands later marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge seeking voting rights.

Vivian endorsed former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson in her bid for U.S. Senate.

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