Second Installment of American Baptist College Presidential Lecture Series

In the second installment of the American Baptist College (ABC) Presidential Lecture Series, Dr. Riggins Earl began his presentation with the impactful video of Rev. C T. Vivian demanding the right to register in Dallas County, Selma, Alabama in February, 1965.  He was brutally punched in the face by Sheriff Jim Clark in that effort.  Rev. Vivian would not be denied.  He straightened himself, called the Sheriff a racist and continued to say it was the Constitutional Right of the more than 40 individuals standing outside the courthouse to register and vote.

Riggins Earl

Dr. Riggins Earl

Dr. Riggins, professor of Ethics and Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, told the attendees the kind of man Rev. C. T. Vivian was…humble, yet persistent and determined. He explained that Rev. Vivian grew up with his Mother and Grand Mother reading him books; many by Black authors about Black people.   Rev. Vivian’s first act of civil disobedience was in 1947, in Peoria Illinois. He participated in his first sit-in that successfully integrated Barton’s Cafeteria.

After graduating from high school he began his college years at Western Illinois University and later transferred to American Baptist College.  It was at ABC that his civil disobedience became his clarion call for justice.  “Rev. Vivian along with his college mates, Julius Scruggs, Bernard Lafayette, and John Lewis, among others, would work to change the laws that were not right for Black People,” said Riggins.

Riggins explained that Rev. Vivian was also concerned about the veterans who had gone to war, to prove they honored this county and wanted to prove themselves worthy of full citizenship, yet were denied when they returned home.  Rev. Vivian was incensed by that.

ABC President, Dr. Forrest Harris, said “Dr. Riggins’ presentation was dynamic and he uprooted the authenticity of Rev. Vivian’s work as a Civil Rights icon.  He went on to say, “ Dr. Earl presented the life of Rev. Vivian in a way that brings clarity to the lenses of life  that calls us to actions of positive change for this generation and these times.”

The discussion brought to life the essence of Rev. Vivian and how he was willing to devote his life to the Constitutional right of justice for all and his willing to die for that cause.

Included in the Zoom audience were Denise Morse, one of Rev. Vivian’s children, and ABC Board members, including Rev. Julius Scruggs, a close friend and fellow activist of Rev. Vivian.


The third installment of the American Baptist College Presidential Lecture Series  will be Monday, November 16 at 7 p.m. Go to Eventbrite to register.  For information contact Andre’ Trice at