Book On C. T. Vivian Sparks Reflections
My C. T. Vivian Story: A Powerful Flame That Burned Brightly ( Harold Michael Harvey, Cascade Publishing House, Atlanta, 2020) sparked reflections from Richard Keil, the founder of the Tubman Museum of African American Arts, History, and Culture in Macon, Georgia.
Keil’s human rights legacy began in the 1950s at the height of the civil rights movement in the United States.
In a touching email to the author, Keil writes, “Thank you for your book about C. T. Vivian. The book (My C. T. Vivian Story) is wonderful to me for so many reasons, too many to list. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, I spent so much time in rural Alabama and Mississippi in the African American community learning from farm laborers, men, and women. Sometimes I was a laborer and sometimes as a seminary student, and sometimes a priest. But hopefully, always as a learner. I am a listener and learner. And I learned so much and missed much.”
Keil reflected on his days during the Lord’s work in Tuskegee, Alabama, the city where the author in the early 1970s attended the historic Tuskegee Institute. Their paths did not cross. The two would not meet until 1977 when Keil came to Harvey’s church, Bethel Christian Methodist Church, in Macon, Georgia, to give a speech on the television series ROOTS.
“For about seven or eight years, I often would go two nights a week to Tuskegee learning from John Brown who had developed the TICEP and SEASHA programs,” Keil recalled.
“I knew the rising Thomas Reed founder of the Chicken Coop (a fast-food eatery that was very popular with students at Tuskegee Institute) and learned a little about politics. Tom ran against Fred Gray, Martin Luther King’s attorney. To my surprise, Thomas Reed beat Fred Gray. I learned how little I knew, Keil reflected.”
“When the new chapel at Tuskegee was commemorated, our children of St. Joseph’s School, of Holy Trinity sang. I was there and it was wonderful,” he said.
Keil then added, “I also know more about you and your great gift of keeping C. T. Vivian’s sacred memories. I am not sure if you know how much that is worth. But you knew him and I know you treasure him and that is precious. Thank you for making me a better person.”
FROM THE DESK OF C. M. HARVEY, PRESIDENT