Civil rights trailblazer C.T. Vivian to be laid to rest

Frederick M. Brown/Getty ImagesBy ELLA TORRES, ABC News

(ATLANTA) — The funeral for civil rights pioneer Rev. C.T. Vivian, known for helping end segregation in the South and his close allyship with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will be laid to rest Thursday.

Vivian died last Friday at the age of 95.

His funeral begins at 11 a.m. at the Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where he died.

Vivian’s work changed the course of America.

He participated in the first sit-ins to end segregation in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1960 and led the first march of the Civil Rights movement. During the sit-ins, Vivian was joined by John Robert Lewis, a civil rights icon who went on to become a congressman, according to the History Makers. Lewis died last Friday at the age of 80.

In Birmingham, his work helped to enact the Civil Rights Bill and in Selma; the Voting Rights Bill.

Prior to that, in Peoria, Illinois, he was part of the effort to end segregation at lunch counters and successfully integrated restaurants in the 1940s.

King later asked Vivian to join the executive staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where King was the first president, and the two organized the Freedom Riders.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 by former President Barack Obama. Vivian provided civil rights counsel to Obama, as well as former Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

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