My Tribute to The Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian
Congressman John Lewis
As I sit watching and listening to the wonderful reactions and remarks of so many about these two giants for the cause of human and civil rights, I feel compelled to share my own. For I too have had my life be touched by these black men of honor from the generation of leaders who changed the world as we then knew it.
Let me speak first of Rev. Vivian. During the 1990’s, I had begun to make my way in the work of advocacy and ministry my path crossed with Rev. Vivian. At the time, he with his son Al were in demand as groups across the country were engaging in anti-oppression/diversity training work. Rev. Vivian lead several trainings I was a part of. I got the chance to have direct conversations with this legendary figure of history. I had seen archival footage where he was featured standing off with Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clarke during the Selma, AL campaign for voting rights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gHJjbDofd0 Here was this man, speaking to me, a young man at the time beginning to walk the path of justice seeking he’d walked for so long. I was in awe and so very grateful for the time he shared with me and so many. The stories of the movement then, are so rooted in me. It speaks to the tradition that many of us are from…the tradition of struggle and resistance, of protest and civil disobedience, of black public engagement and civic responsibility.
And of Congressman Lewis, my mind goes back to the several times I have met him and shaken his hand. I am flooded with the images of him on the Edmund Pettis Bridge and the vicious attack of the Alabama State Troopers that day known to us now as “Blood Sunday” March 7, 1965 as he and The Rev. Hosea Williams led marchers attempted to begin there 54 mile march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate black folks desire to exercise the right to vote. His phrase, “Good Trouble,” now the title of a documentary film featuring him for which I had the pleasure of participating in a community conversation in response to the film here locally in Hartford recently. Here’s the link if you’ve not seen the community conversation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3rKfacy8rE
What a profound sense of esteem I hold these two men in. And while I mourn, I am so very grateful to them for their example of living the life of justice seeking. In their time on this earth, they sought to bring about a better world and a better life for black folk in this country. Might we all seek the same aim for a better world.
Thank you, Rev. Vivian and Congressman Lewis. Take your rest, sleep well and give our regards to Martin and Coretta, Malcolm and Betty, Fannie Lou and Ella Josephine, Kwame and Julian….and so many others!
Bishop John Selders, Jr., Moral Monday CT