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It’s with a heavy heart that I report Reverend C.T. Vivian has passed away. 

The iconic civil rights leader passed away at his Atlanta home on Friday of natural causes, according to his daughter, Kira Vivian.

In a statement, Kira said:

He was the sweetest man. He was so loving. What a loving dad. He was the best father throughout my entire life. 

C.T. Vivian participated in Freedom Rides and worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement. 

In 2013, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. 

Mr. Obama took to Instagram on Friday to pay tribute to Rev. Vivian.

Today, we’ve lost a founder of modern America, a pioneer who shrunk the gap between reality and our constitutional ideals of equality and freedom.

C.T. Vivian was one of Dr. King’s closest advisors, a field general in his movement for civil rights and justice. “Martin taught us that it’s in the action that we find out who we really are,” Reverend Vivian once said. And he was always one of the first in the action – a Freedom Rider, a marcher in Selma, beaten, jailed, almost killed, absorbing blows in hopes that fewer of us would have to. He waged nonviolent campaigns for integration across the south, and campaigns for economic justice throughout the north, and never let up, knowing that even after the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act that he helped win, our long journey to equality was nowhere near finished. As Rosa Parks once said of Reverend Vivian, “Even after things had supposedly been taken care of and we had our rights, he was still out there.”

I admired him from after before I became a senator and got to know him as a source of wisdom, advice, and strength on my first presidential campaign. His friendship, encouraging words, and ever-present smile were a great source of inspiration and comfort, and personally, I will miss him greatly. I’m only here thanks to C.T. Vivian and all the heroes in that Civil Rights Generation. Because of them, the idea of a just, fair, inclusive, and generous America came closer into focus. The trail they blazed gave today’s generation of activists and marchers a roadmap to tag in and finish the journey. And I have to imagine that seeing the largest protest movement in history unfold over his final months gave the Reverend a final dose of hope before his long and well-deserved rest.

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My sincerest condolences and prayers to the Vivian family.

Rest in paradise, Rev.