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Arts & Culture

Celebrating Black History: Civil Rights legend to lead march reenactment in Buffalo

Photo from YouTube video

A civil rights legend will appear in Buffalo Thursday to celebrate Black History month.  Reverend Dr. Cordy Tindell Vivian will be a guest of Canisius College and led students in a reenactment of the Freedom March to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley had a chance to speak with Rev. Vivian about his work that traces back to Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The movement has not ended. We are not giving it as much energy that we once did," said  Rev. Vivian as he described today's civil rights movement.  It was Rev. Vivian that attempted to register to vote in Selma, Alabama in 1965.  http://youtu.be/wfMVebeB_6A

Vivian's attempt was just weeks before the Freedom March from Selma to Montgomery -- a march that led "Bloody Sunday".

State Police used tear gas and Billy clubs against 600-marches as they protested the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and rallied for the right to be part of the electoral process.  Rev. Vivan was a close friend and lieutenant of Rev. King during the civil rights movement.   

WBFO News asked Vivan about his work with Rev. King.

Working by Rev. King's side

"You were, at one time, on Dr. Martin Luther King's executive staff.   What was it like to work with him?"

"Martin was the major voice in the United States.  And when you think of that -- it was the King era, and I was thankful and we were thankful, I believe all of us on staff was able to make true advances for African Americans and this nation at the same time," said Vivan.

Looking at current & future Civil Rights issues

Rev. C.T. Vivian

Vivian reflects on those historic moments as a "tremendous time" for all involved.  Now at the of 89-years old Vivian continues to use his quest for civil rights in modern day times.  In pointing to the case of shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Vivian says it is a chance to see "what is really under the covers".

"We get a chance to see what's behind hidden words and it's very important, and we also see how unready we are as a people. We lack the follow up. We don't have the same leadership. We don't have organizations. We don't have a strategy that can make a difference," said Vivian.

Vivian noted youth of today can not realize the struggles of what occurred during the prime of the American Civil Rights movement.  

Rev. Vivian appears as a guest of Canisius College at 8:30 Thursday in Buffalo. He will be leading students in 6th through 12th grade on the reenactment of the Freedom March along Frank Street to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.