CT Vivian Memorial

Mourners march to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park during a memorial service for The Rev. C.T. Vivian, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Atlanta. Rev. Vivian, an early and key adviser to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who organized pivotal civil rights campaigns and spent decades advocating for justice and equality, died Friday at the age of 95.

ATLANTA — The nation will pay its final respects Thursday to the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a pioneer of the civil rights movement who helped end segregation across the South and left an abiding imprint on U.S. history.

The funeral for Vivian, a close ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is set for 11 a.m. at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. Vivian died Friday in Atlanta at age 95.

Vivian's friends and sons are expected to speak at Thursday's service, and his six grandsons are serving as pallbearers, according to representatives of the C.T. and Octavia Vivian Museum and Archives.

Video tributes by Hank Aaron, Oprah Winfrey and presidential candidate Joe Biden also are planned, funeral organizers said.

The poem "If We Must Die" by Claude McKay will be read during the funeral, according to the program. "If we must die, O let us nobly die, so that our precious blood may not be shed in vain," the poem states.

More than a decade before lunch-counter protests made headlines during the civil rights movement, Vivian began organizing sit-ins against segregation in Peoria, Illinois, in the 1940s.

He later joined forces with King and organized the Freedom Rides across the South to halt segregation.

Vivian was honored by former President Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

On Wednesday, a horse-drawn carriage took his casket from the Georgia Capitol, where a memorial service was held, to King's tomb in Atlanta.

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