Tri States Public Radio Staff
Reverend C.T. Vivian
Fri May 18, 2012
Emphasis - May 18
Rich Egger's guest is Civil Rights leader C.T. Vivian, who grew up in Macomb. Dr Vivian was back in town to speak at the Dealing With Difference Institute at Western Illinois University.
Vivian was a close friend of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. and worked alongside him during the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and '60s. He said the world does not change unless people get involved.
“Church is all right for Sunday morning and I'm a minister so I'm not throwing against church,” Vivian said. “(But) To sit there isn't enough. You're really going to learn what the faith is in the action in the street, in the doing. It's not going to come in the listening.”
Vivian called the “Occupy” movement a people's movement. He's glad to see it happening but he feels it has not been as effective as it could be. Vivian said the movement needs a spokesperson and a unity of purpose - a theme for each of its goals.
Vivian said the movement has the potential to make tremendous change but it's been less and less effective over time.
“Martin King used to say it's a ten day nation. If you haven't done something that reaches toward your goal that people can see and know in ten days, they forget you exist,” Vivian said.
He said it's not too late for the Occupy movement to be effective.
On the other hand, Vivian considers the Tea Party movement to be more of a hindrance than a help to average people.
“When one of their members spits on a black Congressman, you know what I think,” Vivian said. “I see them as a backward movement, not a forward one."
He continued, “I would hate to see them become a dominant American movement. I don't think that way about Republicans. I think that way about them.”
Vivian said his parents moved from the segregated state of Missouri to Macomb when he was young. He said they wanted their son to grow up in a college town.
Vivian turns 88 in a couple months but remains quite active. He is President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and is involved with several other projects.