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The Reverend C.T. Vivian Birthday Celebration

Rich Egger
Reverend C.T. Vivian during a visit to Macomb in 2012.

Macomb celebrated the 97th anniversary of the birth of the late civil rights leader Dr. C.T. Vivian. Community leaders hope to make it an annual event.

The Reverend Vivian was born in Missouri but grew up in Macomb. He went on to serve as one of the leaders of the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.

A diverse group of around 100 people showed up at the site of his boyhood home for the birthday celebration. They included Vivian’s oldest daughter Jo Anna Walker, who drove over from Peoria.

“It made me feel good to see all the people come together,” Walker said.

She called her father a humble man of God.

“He was always about trying to help people. All people. Basically poor people – poor black, white, Asian, whatever. He was always about people he felt needed help, regardless of who they were or what they looked like,” Walker said.

The site of Vivian’s boyhood home is now a vacant lot. But there are plans to build a center of civic and social engagement there.  

“It’s about a $2 million project and we’re starting to work on that,” said Byron Oden-Shabazz, president and founder of the Reverend C.T. Vivian Project.

“I would love to have it done in three years because his 100th birthday is in three years. It would be an honor to have the center up for his 100th birthday.”

Oden-Shabazz said first he must complete the process of obtaining nonprofit status for the foundation.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  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.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.