African American Archives Grow

Vivian speaking at Emory

C. T. Vivian in 2013.

Ann Borden

Civil rights leader the Reverend C. T. Vivian, who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), is placing a portion of his and his late wife’s papers with the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL).

“It’s one of the most significant additions to our African American and civil rights material, and a great opportunity for students and scholars to appreciate a life so fully lived by someone who made such important contributions to the world,” says MARBL Director Rosemary Magee.

The collection includes a number of papers from Octavia Geans Vivian (1928–2011), who supported her husband’s work with the SCLC and was instrumental in the local civil rights movement. She also wrote Coretta, a biography of Coretta Scott King.

The Vivians’ papers contain binders of notes and articles pertaining to civil rights activities and issues, some of C. T.’s published essays and SCLC work, Octavia’s work on Scott King, congressional materials related to the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday, as well as periodicals, C. T.’s outlines for speeches—including notes jotted on napkins and event programs—and more.

“Some of our papers can’t stand the test of time,” Vivian said in a talk at Emory during the King Week celebration in January. “They need a place to be properly preserved, and Emory does an excellent job.”

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