The nation paid its final respects Thursday to the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a pioneer of the civil rights movement who helped end segregation across the South and left an abiding imprint on U.S. history.
Vivian, a close ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was mourned by civil rights icons along with TV personality and author Oprah Winfrey, baseball legend Hank Aaron, former U.N. Ambassador died Friday at age 95.and others during a funeral at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. Vivian
"C.T. was truly a remarkable man, a man whose physical courage was exceeded only by his moral courage, whose capacity for love overwhelmed incredible hatreds, whose faith and the power of nonviolence helped forever change our nation," former Vice President Joe Biden said in a video tribute aired during the service.
"In Illinois, and in Tennessee and Florida, and Mississippi — in the North and in the South — CT was there fighting to turn us back toward justice," Biden added.
Many of those who eulogized Vivian described him as a courageous soldier for God and civil rights who always remained humble.
"He didn't want attention, he didn't want money, he only wanted to do God's will and bring out the best in these United States of America and its people regardless of their race, creed, color or national origin," Ambassador Andrew Young said in his videotaped remarks.
More than a decade before lunch-counter protests made headlines during the civil rights movement, Vivian began organizing sit-ins against segregation in Peoria, Illinois, in the 1940s. He later joined forces with King and organized theacross the South to fight segregation.
Vivian was honored by former President Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Vivian "was always one of the first in the action — a Freedom Rider, a, beaten, jailed, almost killed, absorbing blows in hopes that fewer of us would have to," Mr. Obama said in a statement shortly after his death.
On Wednesday, a horse-drawn carriage took Vivian's casket from the Georgia Capitol, where a memorial service was held, to King's tomb in Atlanta, rolling down Piedmont Avenue and Auburn Avenue to The King Center as well-wishers lined the streets.
Vivian, a towering figure in the movement whose activism dated back more than seven decades, died the same day as— a fellow icon in the long . Vivian was a Baptist minister and one of the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
"As one of the foremost advocates for justice during the Civil Rights Movement and one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s most trusted friends and deputies, C.T. Vivian stood on the front lines of the fight for equality," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said during Wednesday's ceremony at the Capitol.
"During one of the most turbulent times in our nation's history, C.T. Vivian was steadfast and calm, grounded in the knowledge that he fought for something much bigger than the obstacle in front of him," Kemp added.
Georgia State Representative Vernon Jones said Vivian paved the way for Black Americans to reach the highest levels in public life.
"There would be no Obama had it not been for C.T. Vivian," said Jones, USA Today reported. "There would be no Black female Congresspersons had it not been for C.T. Vivian. His legacy will live forever."
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