A 36-year-old Baptist minister from Howard, Missouri, the Rev. Cordy "C.T." Vivian was the oldest of the Nashville Riders. A close friend of James Lawson, he had gained the trust of the students involved in the Nashville movement by participating in the 1960 Nashville sit-in campaign to end lunch counter desegregation. On May 24, 1961, he was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, on the formal charge of breach of peace and imprisoned at Parchman State Prison Farm.
One of the civil rights movement's most respected and revered figures, he was named director of Southern Christian Leadership Conference affiliates in 1963, and later founded and led several civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, the Center of Democratic Renewal and Black Action Strategies and Information Center.