Narratives of the Life of Dr. C. T. Vivian Civil Rights Activist: Passing the Leadership Torch on his 85th Birthday

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An Incon from the Civil Rights Movement and close friend of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. C. T. Vivian, was celebrated at his 85th birthday by 700 of his friends, community leaders, admirers and other civil rights leaders. Dr. Vivian passed his leadership torch on to the next generation with a charge to lead.

You can turn your back on me but you cannot turn your back on the concept of justice.

The Reverend Dr. C. T. Vivian, a renowned minister, author, educator, community activist, and humanitarian was celebrated at his 85th birthday on July 31, 2009 by 700 of his friends, community leaders, and admirers. The C. T. Vivian Leadership Institute hosted the 85th Birthday Celebration for Dr. Vivian who was a close friend and lieutenant of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the American Civil Rights Movement. His birthday commemoration, themed Leadership Now: Passing the Torch, included a full day of activities including a Discussion Summit ; a Networking Mixer; and the main attraction, Narratives of my Life: A Spiritual Journey , which featured passing the torch to a new generation of leadership.

The Discussion Summit -- Leadership Now: Passing the Torch, hosted by Angela Yvonne Robinson, Derrick Boazman, and Alisha Thomas Morgan, offered an occasion to recall some of Dr. Vivian's history-making moments in time such as the confrontation at the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Sheriff Jim Clark in Selma, AL and the historic Freedom Riders . Featured speakers and presenters at this event included Warren Ballentine, Elizabeth Omilami, Dick Gregory, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney and Isaiah Washington.

Alisha Thomas Morgan, GA State Legislator; Jovita Moore, Atlanta WSB (ABC) TV Anchor; and Isaiah Washington, Actor, hosted the evening dinner party Narratives of my Life: A Spiritual Journey. Presentations were made by Monica Pearson, George Andrews, Henrietta Antoinin, Derrick Boazman, and others. Leadership Torches were passed by Reverend Dr. Teresa Hairston and Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley to those individuals who participated in the "passing the torch" discussions earlier in the day. Entertainment for the event was provided by Sinfo-Nia Youth Orchestra and the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta.

"Narratives" of Dr. Vivian's life were written and published in a journal that is offered for sale by the C. T. Vivian Leadership Institute, the non-profit organization founded by Dr. Vivian, in an effort to raise funds for the organization. The short story narratives detail certain periods in Dr. Vivian's life such an incident that made international news when Vivian confronted Sheriff Jim Clark on the steps of the Selma, Alabama, courthouse during a voter registration drive. After an impassioned speech by Vivian, Clark struck him, therefore showing Clark to the world as a racist. Vivian said to Clark, "You can turn your back on me but you cannot turn your back on the concept of justice."

With his family surrounding him, the evening closed with Dr. Vivian giving his own narrative and recalling stories about his life and the people who influenced him, especially his bride of 56 years, Octavia G. Vivian.

The C. T. Vivian Leadership Institute has offices in Atlanta Ga. For more informatin about Dr. Vivian and his life work, please visit this organization's website.

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BUNNIE JACKSON-RANSOM
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