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Civil Rights Leader C.T. Vivian Dies At 95


The Reverend C.T. Vivian, a lion of the civil rights movement, has died. He was 95 years old. Reverend Vivian was a member of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s inner circle of advisers. He was with Dr. King on the front lines of nonviolent protests through the 1960s, and the Reverend Vivian's fight for civil rights continued for decades after. Civil rights activist and educator Josie Johnson is on the line with me now. Good morning, Ms. Johnson.

JOSIE JOHNSON: Good morning, Noel.

KING: You knew Reverend Vivian a little bit. Tell us about him.

JOHNSON: Let me just share. Reverend Vivian was one of those people that I admired so early because he was thoughtful, No. 1, he was - he had lots of insight about what was going on. At his age, he could have a historical reference. He was able to bring that to us, help us all understand the need to be clear, to plan, to make sure that you understood what you were doing and to maintain the continuity of the struggle.

In my judgment, he was one of those people who talked about strategy, talked about methods, talked about the rationale for having a plan - not just acting, but understand why you're acting and then being consistent. In my judgment, as a person of the early days, he had a history. I could relate to him. I was born just six years after Reverend Vivian, and so I could understand that early struggle, having grown up myself in a family that struggled.

So in my view, he offered Dr. King the kind of stability, understanding and continuity that we so need even today. I was impressed, you know, in 2013, when our President Obama gave him the Medal of Honor. That was important - a person like that struggling so early, being a part of a clear intentional of justice and freedom, was able to help us understand the need to be consistent, to be clear, to have insight, to be dedicated to the struggle of our ancestors.

So it was my joy to get to meet Reverend Vivian. He was - I don't know how to describe him more clearly. He was quiet, thoughtful and, in my judgment, planful, prayerful and consistent. And he needed to show the civil rights movement - the early days. I had been involved since 1956, so I understood his position and our position. And it's my joy just to remember him and my sadness at our loss of an old civil rights worker.

KING: Civil rights activist Josie Johnson. Thank you for this remembrance.

JOHNSON: Thank you for inviting me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.