WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Proposal to Name New Middle School After C.T. Vivian

Aug 3, 2020

A couple elected leaders in Macomb say the community's new middle school should be named after the Reverend C-T Vivian. 

The civil rights activist grew up in Macomb. He died July 17 at the age of 95.

Board of Education member Jim LaPrad read a statement during the most recent school board meeting to voice his support for naming the building after Dr. Vivian.  He later elaborated on his statement during an interview with Tri States Public Radio.

“A building’s name should represent a history and maybe stories that our kids need to know or community needs to know. And his (Vivian’s) work, particularly his non-violent mentality and actions, need to be known and replicated,” LaPrad said.

He pointed out Vivian was a leader in the non-violent American Civil Rights movement and that President Obama awarded Vivian the Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

At-large city council member Tammie Leigh Brown Edwards is the other community leader who thinks the middle school should be named after Vivian. She told TSPR that Macomb’s schools have a long history of educating all children, no matter their color.

“If you listen to C.T. Vivian’s conversations, he will talk about why his family decided to move here when he was a young boy,” Brown Edwards said.

“(It was) because they had heard that Macomb schools and Western were already desegregated during segregation. They moved here because they wanted him to be educated in public schools and they wanted him to continue on and go to college. And that’s exactly what he did.”

Brown Edwards and LaPrad said another name the school district might want to consider is Bill Thorpe. He was Macomb’s first Black police officer.

Thorpe died last fall at the age of 86.

Construction of the middle school has fallen slightly behind schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The school district paid tribute to Vivian five years ago by naming the library at the junior-senior high in honor of the civil rights champion.

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.