A collection of items by Reverend CT Vivian in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Book Library has seen a recent increase in activity, with new documents added from the family, research conducted for future documentary and educational use by Emory’s classes. .
The documents have been in particular demand since the death of the civil rights activist on July 17, 2020, at the age of 95. The CT and Octavia Vivian documents were originally placed in the Rose Library in 2014, containing notes and articles relating to civil rights activities. and problems; Octavia’s work on “Coretta,” a biography she wrote on Coretta Scott King; Congressional documents relating to the establishment of the feast of Martin Luther King Jr. Day; as well as periodicals, CT outlines for speeches and notes he scribbled on napkins and event programs, and other ephemera. Much of the material was collected by Octavia Vivian, who died in 2011.
Additions to the collection
The additions, which arrived earlier this year and more than doubled the size of the collection, include audiovisual and print material, calendars, correspondence, photographs, notes and speeches. CT Vivian created most of this material. There are also many handwritten notes from Vivian as he composed his sermons.
The Rose Library also houses several books from Vivian’s personal collection. (TC and the Octavia Vivian Museum and Archives also have a large collection of her books and are planning to open a library to make them available to the public.)
“The Rose Library is honored to be entrusted by the Vivian family with this major addition to the Vivian papers, which are at the heart of our African-American and civil rights collections,” said Jennifer Gunter King, director of the Rose Library.
“The papers, kept by Team Rose,” King observes, “will be made available to generations of students, academics and artists seeking to understand the history of the Vivians. In addition, the articles give us a sense of the importance of history in our lives, of our efforts to provide insights from Vivian’s articles about our present and our future.
Vivian has also worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), whose documents are held in the Rose Library, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was instrumental in the Freedom Rides bus protests and sit-in at the lunch counter in the early 1960s.
Clinton Fluker, curator of the African-American collections at the Rose Library, said the additions include many elements relating to Vivian’s activist life. He’s excited to see the connections researchers will make to current struggles against voting restrictions, excessive policing, and other forms of racism.
“I look forward to seeing the connections that can be made through education, training and research,” says Fluker. “Vivian was a strategist in the civil rights movement and someone who really had a deep sense of history, industry and politics. He helped us grow as a nation through his activism, teachings, sermons, and through the organizations he led. Much of the work he focused on is still relevant today and these articles will help people make those connections. “
Documentary to come
Vivian is one of the subjects of a documentary film created by filmmaker Eddy Von Mueller, former senior lecturer in film and media studies at Emory, and the late Pellom McDaniels III, former curator of the African-American collections at the Rose Library. . “In the Archives: Small Steps – CT Vivian, Upward Bound and the Struggle for Educational OpportunitiesWill debut at the BronzeLens Film Festival online August 17-22.
The film, which includes interviews with Vivian, weaves her involvement in the civil rights movement in the 1960s; his founding of Project Vision (now Upward Bound), which aimed to keep black high school students in school and interested in college; and a terrifying confrontation with the KKK on a trip to St. Augustine by a group of youth participating in the program at Emory in 1969.
It will also be presented during In the wake of slavery and dispossession, a symposium scheduled for this fall on the Emory and Oxford campuses, which Dean and University Librarian Yolanda Cooper calls “an ideal setting for the public to see this meaningful work.”
Mueller recalls looking at the Vivian collection in the Rose Library with McDaniels as they researched the film. McDaniels, who co-wrote and narrated the film and conducted on-camera interviews, died in February 2020, before the project could be completed.
“The depth and variety of materials in the collection are incredible and provide many opportunities to approach our common past from new angles, to find the kind of unexpected connections that make this work so rewarding,” says Mueller.
“Sometimes, sitting right next to the document or poster that you thought was the holy grail of this morning, there was this other element – a photo, a newspaper clipping, a statement in the minutes of a reunion – and the next thing you knew, you were galloping on a whole new trail. That kind of serendipity is irreplaceable, especially for a documentary maker, and the Rose Library is a great place to find it, “notes Mueller.
The Vivian Collection has previously played a role in “For Peace I Rise”, a musical piece about the love story of CT and Octavia Vivian, two young civil rights activists who shared a commitment to the principles of nonviolent protest. and their Christian faith. It was written by Thomas W. Jones II, with music composed by William Knowles and S. Renee Clarke. The Emory Theater performed the musical on January 25, 2020, with Vivian and her family in the audience.
Jones said in a follow-up panel that he based the play on his interviews with Vivian and then went to the Rose Library to gather details on the marches, speeches and other aspects of the life of the ‘activist.
“[The Vivian collection] was extremely helpful in filling in all the details, ”Jones says. “There was so much information about how they prepared to walk, what the components were, who did the work, how the workshops were organized for non-violent direct confrontation. You started to realize that it was no accident, but it was clearly defined.
Classroom and curriculum use
Several Emory courses, such as the Writing about Race creative writing course and the Lines and Design: The Poetry of Digital Culture English course, have already drawn on the Vivian collection. Fluker looks forward to more students and faculty spending time with the documents and imagines that theology and business students find value in the archives.
“It unlocks an incredible ability to learn more about his life, but also shows how far he was ahead on issues like race and social justice in the workplace, and how to deal with diversity and inclusion,” how to think about equal access to education in this country, ”says Fluker.
In addition, a college-level program on CT Vivian based on two of her books has been developed and will be used this year by Emory and other universities in the Atlanta area. The program was developed by CT and Octavia Vivian Museum and Archives and Adar Cohen, who developed other programs and lectured on the history of civil rights, conflict resolution and strategic non-violence at the DePaul University, University of Chicago and Harvard University.
Robert M. Franklin Jr., Laney Chair in Moral Leadership at the Candler School of Theology, plans to use part of the curriculum for a unit on Vivian in the Religion, Ethics, and Public Intellectuals graduate seminar. The Rose Library is in talks to include classroom access to the collection as part of this program, says Fluker.
In the future, Fluker hopes the Rose Library can develop a way to share CT Vivian materials with K-12 schools, similar to its traveling exhibitions program in public schools.
“The Vivian Collection is one of the largest and most important one-person collections belonging to the civil rights movement,” said Fluker. “He was such a great teacher, by his words and his example. It would be great to provide this information in a way that is accessible to more people.