Civil rights pioneer to speak at AU on Martin Luther King

AUBURN — Rev. C. T. Vivian, a longtime civil rights and peace activist, will speak on “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Prophet for Our Age,” on Wednesday, April 4, at 4 p.m., in 112 Thach Hall.

Vivian has lectured on campuses nationwide on the issues of civil rights, non-violence and racism as well as the work of King, with whom he worked for many years as a member of his executive staff.

Vivian’s talk will mark the 40th anniversary of King’s famous address before 3,000 people at Riverside Church in New York City, in which he voiced his opposition to the Vietnam War, and also the 39th anniversary of King’s assassination.

Born in Missouri in the 1920s, Vivian first became involved in non-violent civil rights direct action in 1947, when he worked to desegregate lunch counters in Peoria, Ill. He went on to found the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, organizing the first sit-ins there in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. Vivian was a rider on the first “Freedom Bus” into Jackson, Miss., and worked with King in Birmingham, Selma, Chicago and Nashville as well as the March on Washington.

During the summer following the Selma Movement in the mid-1960s, Vivian conceived and directed an educational program, Vision, and put 702 Alabama students in college with scholarships. The program later became Upward Bound.

He appeared in the popular civil rights documentary “Eyes on the Prize” and his biography, “The Healing Ministry of the Rev. C.T. Vivian,” aired on PBS.

Sponsors for Vivian’s lecture are AU Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, AU Special Lectures Committee, Center for the Arts & Humanities, College of Liberal Arts, Department of History, Department of Political Science and the Alliance for Peace and Justice.

(Contributed by Larry Gerber.)

Contact: Larry Gerber, (334) 844-6646 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (