The Rev. C.T. Vivian, a staunch civil rights veteran who marched alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., died Friday, his family said. He was 95.
Vivian’s death at his Atlanta home was confirmed by his daughter Denise Morse, who said he was “one of the most wonderful men who ever walked the earth.”
The civil rights leader, who was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, suffered a stroke about two months ago but seemed to being doing well before “he just stopped eating” and died of natural causes, according to his friend and business partner Don Rivers.
Active in sit-in protests in Peoria, Ill., in the 1940s, Vivian met King during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted just over a year and drew international attention.
“There must always be the understanding of what Martin had in mind for this organization,” Vivian said in a 2012 interview. “Nonviolent, direct action makes us successful. We cannot allow the nation or the world to ever forget that.”
In 2013, President Barack Obama honored Vivian with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.