Ashland University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration to Feature Guest Speaker

ASHLAND, Ohio – An Ashland University Community Celebration as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 19, 2015, will feature guest speaker Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian. The event will be held at 7 p.m. in John C. Myers Convocation Center on the AU campus.

The Community Celebration, sponsored by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, will host Rev. Vivian who will speak on the topic of “Civil Rights in the New Millennium.” The MLK event is free and open to the public.

Once a Christian journalist, Dr. Vivian is best known for his work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In 2013, President Obama awarded Dr. Vivian the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Vivian was national director of affiliates and strategist for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.) organization. In addition to his work in Birmingham, Ala., that helped win the Civil Rights Bill and his work in Selma, Ala., on the Voting Rights Bill, he was deeply involved in other movements such as Nashville, Tenn.; Danville, Va.; St. Augustine, Fla.; and Chicago, Ill. Vivian had won his first non-violent direct action movement in 1947 opening restaurants in Peoria, Ill.

Vivian is featured throughout PBS’s acclaimed documentary “Eyes On The Prize” (1987 & 2006).  PBS later produced a full-length presentation, “The Healing Ministry of the Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian.” He also is featured as both an activist and analyst in the series, “The People’s Century” (PBS/WGBH, 1998), and in the Tom Brokaw documentary “King” (History Channel, 2008).

After leaving Dr. King’s executive staff, Vivian trained ministers and developed the urban curriculum for seminaries throughout the nation at the Urban Training Center in Chicago. He returned to the realm of seminary education as the dean of divinity at Shaw University Seminary. There he originated and acquired funding for an original national level program, the basis of his doctoral work, “Seminary Without Walls.”

Vivian also is the founder of BASIC Diversity Inc. (BASIC), a full service diversity consultancy that has been operating nationally for 39 years. BASIC helps organizations leverage the benefits and minimize the challenges created by a diverse workforce by creating environments where people can effectively collaborate across cultural differences. BASIC’s client list includes some of the most recognizable brands on the planet. They are best known for its Race Awareness Workshop, which has been evaluated as one of the most effective race relations program in America.

In 2008, Vivian founded the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute Inc. to create a model leadership culture for the purpose of training and educating the new generation of grass-roots leaders inspired to mobilize a constituency. The Institute is based out of Atlanta, Ga. More recently, he received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College (2010), served as national president of S.C.L.C. (2012), and currently serves as dean of The Urban Institute at The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Ga.

Some of his other notable accomplishments include:

•    being summoned to provide civil rights counsel to five different U.S. Presidential Administrations (Johnson, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Obama).
•    serving as part of a team of religious advisers to President Barack Obama during his successful 2008 campaign.
•    advising foreign Heads of State.
•    addressing the United Nations.
•    addressing the World Baptist Alliance as a keynote speaker during their conference on racism in the world community.  He shared the platform with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
•    being director of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “The best non-violent movement in the nation”
•    serving on an independent UN Committee on Human Rights Education.
•    being highlighted, in one year alone, in three books, two of which were authored by Pulitzer Prize winners and the other by a U.S. Congressman: “The Children,” David Habersham; “Pillars of Fire,” Taylor Branch; and “Walking With The Wind,” Congressman John Lewis.
•    being highly respected across the racial spectrum with his awards including The Trumpet Award (2006), The National Jewish Labor Award, and The Martin L. King, Jr. Humanitarian Award.
•    organizing street gangs in Chicago, turning gang members away from violence, and developing a program that earned them jobs.
•    serving as National Deputy Director of Clergy for Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Presidential bid.

For more information, contact the Ashland Center for Nonviolence at 419-289-5313.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###