The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — At least seven colleges in Georgia and one in Louisiana are now offering classes about the late civil rights leader Rev. C.T. Vivian, and those involved in creating the curriculum hope to expand that number to at least 50 schools by next year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Vivian, an early and key adviser to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who organized pivotal campaigns for equality, died last year at the age of 95. The effort to teach college students about him is being led by longtime friends and educators, according to the AJC.
“The life and work of C.T. Vivian provides a useful case study and a template for action that will both educate and inspire the next generation of servant leaders,” said Beverly Tatum, a former Spelman College president.
The lessons use Vivian’s books and videos as a foundation, but professors can create their own syllabuses.
In Georgia, Emory University and Kennesaw State University are among the schools offering courses based on Vivian’s teachings. Louisiana State University at Shreveport is also part of the effort.
Vivian began staging sit-ins against segregation in Peoria, Illinois, in the 1940s. He met King soon after the budding civil rights leader’s leadership of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and helped organize the Freedom Rides that forced federal intervention across the South.
Vivian boldly challenged a segregationist sheriff while trying to register Black voters in Selma, Alabama, where hundreds, then thousands, later marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
As cameras rolled, the sheriff punched him. News coverage of the assault helped turned a local registration drive into a national phenomenon.
At the University of West Georgia, student Tre Mason said the course about Vivian is his favorite.
“It provides us a lot of good information on Black history and what we weren’t taught in our history classes,” the 19-year-old told the AJC.