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Remembering The Legacy Of Two Civil Rights Icons, C.T. Vivian And John Lewis

People take part in a candlelight vigil for U.S. Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta, Georgia.
People take part in a candlelight vigil for U.S. Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta, Georgia.

Two civil rights icons passed away recently, Congressman John Lewis and the Rev.C.T. Vivian

After a battle with pancreatic cancer, Lewis died on July 17. He was a leader in the civil rights movement, speaking at the March On Washington  and the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma. He was elected to Congress in 1987 and served Georgia’s 5th district in the House of Representatives until his death.

And Rev. C.T. Vivian was referred to as Martin Luther King Jr.’s field general. He championed nonviolent protest. Vivian met King during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, but he organized protests as early as the 1940s, when he orchestrated sit-ins in Peoria, Illinois. He died at 95 after suffering a stroke.

Here’s Errin Haines, writing about the two men for The Washington Post.

As these brave Americans are mourned, it’s disquieting to consider what the loss of their physical presence means for our country’s social fabric. Already, the pandemic has robbed millions of the opportunity for proper closure. It’s unclear whether these giants can be memorialized in ways befitting their legacies.

Their deaths could be a galvanizing force at a moment of national reflection: not merely about resurgent racism and voter-suppression efforts but also the more recent reckoning around the institutions and individuals maintaining structural systems of oppression.

How should we honor their legacies? And what are the memories of these two men that will stay with Americans?

Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5

Michelle Harven