Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116
URI student group brings civil rights leader
C.T. Vivian to campus
KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 21, 2003 -- Legendary civil rights leader and activist C.T. Vivian will speak at the University of Rhode Island next Wednesday, February 26 at 5 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium. His talk "Designing Social Movements" is free and open to the public.
URI students who were part of a group who participated in a Civil Rights Movement tour to Alabama and Georgia last November prompted his visit. The tour was led by Dr. Bernard LaFayette, distinguished scholar-in-residence at URI and director of its Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. While touring, the students got a chance to met and talked with Vivian in Atlanta.
Inspired by Vivian and others they met, four honors students decided to take their field trip further by forming a group called SAGE (Student Action Group for Education). The groups purpose is to combine the rich, significant historical experiences of civil rights activities with contemporary challenges and activities to inform, conceptualize, and empower. Vivians talk is one the activities planned this semester.
Vivian continues his activism today, tirelessly working for the progress of African Americans and the civil and political rights of all peoples. An uplifting speaker, Vivian has addressed audiences in 42 states, 10 countries, and on countless college campuses about civil rights, nonviolence, racism, and Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., with whom he worked for many years.
A Baptist minister, he first used nonviolence methods in 1947 to end Peorias segregated lunch counters. Later, he founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, organizing the first sits-in there in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. A rider on the first "Freedom Bus" into Jackson, Miss., he worked on Kings executive staff in Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, Nashville, the March On Washington, and more. The summer after the Selma Movement, Vivian conceived and directed an educational program, "Vision", and put 702 Alabama students in college with scholarships. The program later became known as Upward Bound.
Vivian was featured as an activist and an analyst in the civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize and in a PBS special The Healing Ministry of Dr. C.T. Vivian. He has made numerous appearances on Oprah, as well as the Montel Williams Show and Donohue. He is the focus of a biography Challenge and Change by Lydia Walker. He is the author of Black Power and the American Myth, which was an Ebony Book Club Selection.
Vivian is chairman of the Southern Organizing Committee Education Fund, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Black Action Strategies and Information Center, and the Center for Democratic Renewal.