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Statement from the NMA on the Passing of C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis

Wednesday, July 22, 2020   (0 Comments)
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National Medical Association President, Oliver Brooks, released the following statement on the passing of Congressman John Lewis and CT Vivian.

Last week, we lost two giants Reverend C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Robert Lewis. The National Medical Association mourns both of their deaths, while recognizing the tremendous impact their lives had on the road to equality and justice in our nation.

Reverend C.T. Vivian worked at the forefront of racial equity for most of his life. He was a contemporary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and worked alongside some of the most notable leaders of the nation’s Civil Rights Movement. Reverend Vivian is best known for his strategic leadership at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and as civil rights counsel to five Presidential administrations. Reverend Vivian was also a fervent educator, who developed an urban curriculum for seminaries and trained ministers across the U.S.

Congressman John Robert Lewis was a civil rights icon and a true public servant. He was the last living keynote speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, surfacing his long- standing commitment to public service. Born in Troy, Alabama, John Lewis found success as a member of Congress where he advocated for a variety of legislative issues, including health care. Congressman Lewis was also instrumental in legislation that elevated the existing Office of Minority Health at NIH to center status under a new name: The Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities now an Institute. Congressman Lewis was also instrumental in the passage of the legislation that created the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture.

In today’s climate, when the COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality are decimating the Black community, both men serve as reminders for how we end racial injustice and other systemic inequalities. Their lives remind us that it will take more than just a day, a week, or even a summer of unrelenting work, to eliminate racism. Contemporary movements, including Black Lives Matter, are part of the history that Reverend Vivian and Congressmen Lewis both worked to seed and from these soils will emerge new leadership.

These men were both the embodiment of grace, courage, and vision and our nation will be blessed by their hard work and unrelenting work to greater equality. Now, may they both rest well after living such meaningful and purpose-filled lives.

The National Medical Association is the collective voice of African American physicians and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine. The NMA is the oldest organization of African American professionals in America representing African American physicians and the patients we serve in the United States and its territories.


Oliver T. Brooks, MD

National Medical Association | 8403 Colesville Road, Suite 820, Silver Spring, MD 20910 | 202-347-1895