Medal of Freedom Re-Invigorates Vivian Civil Rights Icon Sees Honor As A Platform

By Carrie L. Williams Contributing Writer | 8/23/2013, 6 a.m.
Dr. Vivian With CNN news anchor Fredricka Whitfield.

ATLANTA - Being awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom is no occasion to “ego trip”, as 89-year-old civil rights activist C.T. Vivian sees it.

Instead, the honor that President Barack Obama will soon bestow upon him is what Vivian considers a launching pad for a new wave of advocacy on behalf of the poor, marginalized and disenfranchised in our society.

A film crew from CNN recently converged on the Rev. Dr. Cordy Tindell Vivian’s Atlanta home to record his reaction to being tapped as a Medal of Freedom recipient. He will be among 16 individuals – including Oprah Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton – to receive the medal this year. And Vivian will join the ranks of other Atlanta Civil Rights Movement icons – the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Congressman John Lewis, and former Ambassador Andrew Young – who have previously received the highest accolade a U.S. President can give.

With the Atlanta Voice sitting close by, Vivian told CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield that the international exposure that comes with receiving the Medal of Honor would renew his vigor “to get some things done that we haven’t been able to get done”.

“An Atlanta public engagement movement could prove to be a model for the country, where we could share our lessons learned with others, through the technology we now have” added Vivian, the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and a pioneering strategist for urban education.

“The question is: Do we have the will?”

Vivian travels to Washington, D.C. this weekend to participate in the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, and to press political leaders to help preserve voting rights for minorities.

His interview with Whitfield will air on CNN as part of the cable news network’s coverage of commemoration events.