Rev. C.T. Vivian: Memories and Reflections

The Reverend Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian died last night in Atlanta, GA, at the age of 95. I met him between 1962 and 1963, during the years of my work with and on behalf of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We saw one another on numerous occasions during the past 58 years. Referred to affectionately as “C.T.” by those of us who worked closely with him, he was one the most dedicated and fearless of Dr. King’s “battlefield lieutenant generals” in our successful struggle to transform America to end racial segregation during the 1960s.

I was blessed to have him visit my home in Riverdale, NY during the 1960s on more than one occasion in connection with my work as a political advisor, personal lawyer, and draft speech writer for Dr. King.

Rev. C.T. Vivian was fearless, imbued with his deep belief in God and the moral righteousness of our struggle to end racism, poverty, and violence.

Undoubtedly, there may be some African Americans today that believe their apparent achievements and “successes” are due solely to their special personal perseverance and talents. They are not. Their success is because of the work and sacrifices of C.T. Vivian, Dr. King, and many others that made their “success” possible.

There may be persons of great wealth in Silicon Valley who believe that what they have accomplished is because of their unique entrepreneurial talents and dedicated hard work.

That may be partially true. But what is certain and true, is that what they have built and/or acquired is because of the lifelong sacrifices of C.T. Vivian to make the society in which they were educated an enabler for them to build and acquire their wealth. They, too, owe a debt of gratitude to C.T. Vivian.

President Obama had the political good sense and moral integrity to award C.T. the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2013

I remember like yesterday when I showed up as a “surprise” at C.T.’s home in Atlanta from my home here in Palo Alto, CA. to celebrate his 90th Birthday.

My beloved brother, rest in peace. You shall never be forgotten.

With love,


Dr. Clarence B. Jones