For these civil rights icons, continued movement-building was always on their minds

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian represented more than their roles in church and state. Both made the lifelong decision to build people's movements.
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This reflection is part of FOR’s ¡Presente! series, honoring the lives of John Lewis, C.T. Vivian and other civil rights movement icons.

Getting to meet, do some work and associate with Rev. C.T. Vivian and Rep. John Lewis (who both passed away this last week), has surely been a privilege — not just because of the tremendous individual qualities of those two men, each Southern-based Black liberation pioneers. What they represent to me (and should to others) is not mainly their roles in the church or the state, but the ongoing decisions that both of them made to BUILD PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS!!

Matt Meyer with C.T. Vivian at his home in Atlanta last year. (WNV/Matt Meyer)

C.T., like many of his colleagues, could have rested on his 1960’s laurels rather than choose to lead coalitions fighting against the KKK and the racist radical right. John could easily have decided, once an elected congressman, to forget his past life and make his rags-to-riches story the focus of his last decades. Instead, ever the student organizer, John worked to reach new generations about the importance of popular social mobilization: the March.

Continued movement-building was always on their minds. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

This story was produced by Fellowship Magazine

Since 1918, the Fellowship of Reconciliation has published the award-winning print magazine Fellowship. It is also now online, offering original grassroots analysis, movement research, first-person commentary, poetry and more to help people of faith and conscience build a nonviolent, compassionate world.

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