The wisdom acquired during C. T. Vivian’s nine decades is generously shared in It’s in the Action, the civil rights legend’s memoir of his life and times in the movement. Born in Missouri in 1924, Vivian lived twenty-four years in Illinois before moving to Nashville, where he earned a degree in theology and joined John Lewis, Diane Nash, and others to integrate the city in 1960. After being imprisoned and beaten during the Freedom Rides, he joined Dr. King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta and played leading roles in integration and voting rights campaigns in Birmingham, St. Augustine, and Selma. Over the next half century, he became internationally known for his work for education and civil and human rights and against racism, hatred, and economic inequality. In 2013, Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Vivian passed away peacefully in Atlanta on July 17, 2020. Vivian was never defined by discrimination and hardship, although he faced many instances of both. The late civil rights leader’s heart-wrenching and inspiring stories from a lifetime of nonviolent activism come just in time for a new generation of activists, similarly responding to systems of injustice, violence, and oppression.
It’s in the Action is a record of a life dedicated to selflessness and morality, qualities achieved by Vivian that we can all aspire to. Bearing a foreword from Andrew Young, the memoir is an important addition to civil rights history and to the understanding of movement principles and strategies.