The nation paid its final respects Thursday to the Rev. CT Vivian, a pioneer of the civil rights movement who helped end segregation across the South and left an abiding imprint on US history. Vivian, a close ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was mourned by civil rights icons along with TV personality Oprah Winfrey and baseball legend Hank Aaron—both of whom delivered remarks via pre-recorded video—during a funeral at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, the AP reports. Vivian died July 17 at age 95. "CT was truly a remarkable man, a man whose physical courage was exceeded only by his moral courage, whose capacity for love overwhelmed incredible hatreds, whose faith and the power of nonviolence helped forever change our nation," former Vice President Joe Biden said in a video tribute aired during the service.
Those who eulogized Vivian described him as a courageous soldier for God and civil rights who always remained humble. "He didn't want attention, he didn't want money, he only wanted to do God's will and bring out the best in these United States of America and its people regardless of their race, creed, color or national origin," Ambassador Andrew Young said in videotaped remarks. Vivian's preaching was described as "an echo from heaven" by civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette. But it was his work during the civil rights movement and the decades that followed that left an impression on Winfrey. "In his presence we were always learning more about our country, about ourselves, about what it means to stand for what is right," Winfrey said. "He was a giant for justice." Friends said Vivian's legacy will live on in the continuing struggle for civil rights for all. "For me, CT was a dream keeper, always holding fast for dreams of a better world," David McCord said.
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