FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2007, file photo, C.T. Vivian uses an intercom with Rev. James Lawson on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., to discuss the experiences they encountered in 1961 as Freedom Riders, a group of college students who defied segregation on interstate buses across the American South.
Credit: Lavondia Majors/The Tennessean via AP

The Rev. C.T. Vivian has died at the age of 95. He was an early civil rights leader who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and later directed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Vivian's civil rights work began in the 1940s with sit-in demonstrations in Peoria, Ill. He met King soon after the budding civil rights leader’s victory in the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Vivian helped organize the Freedom Rides to integrate busing across the South, and risked his life to register voters in Alabama. President Barack Obama gave Vivian the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. 


Reverend C.T. Vivian speaks about why blacks were resisting oppression in the 1960s.