Statement of Raymond C. Pierce, President of Southern Education Foundation, on the Recent Passing of Reverend C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis

July 18, 2020 (Atlanta, Georgia) — The Southern Education Foundation released the following statement from its President and CEO regarding the passing of civil rights icons Reverend C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis:

In the last 24 hours we have lost two towering figures in the fight for civil rights. I am proud and honored to have met both Congressman Lewis and Reverend Vivian and have been deeply inspired by these two “drum majors for justice, peace and righteousness.”

As we remember their lives – which they dedicated to pursuing equity and justice – we must also honor their work and memories. We do that by fully committing ourselves to the pursuit and advancement of the civil and human rights of all people. At the core of that pursuit is ensuring that every child has the opportunity to succeed and thrive. A goal that requires that every child has access to a high-quality education, which is the vision of the Southern Education Foundation.

There is no question that this is a pivotal time in our nation’s history. COVID-19 has shone a bright spotlight on racial inequity and people are taking to the streets in cities and towns across our country to call for racial justice. Just before his death, Congressman Lewis noted that he felt a difference this time in the “good trouble” people were getting into.

We must seize hold of that difference, that “good trouble” and this moment to rededicate ourselves to realizing the dream of Dr. King and the true promise of our nation.


Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation was a pivotal source of research and data to support legislation and litigation aimed at fighting inequity in education during the civil rights era. The organization today conducts leadership development, research, and advocacy to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color and achieve educational equity in the Southern U.S. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Find out more at
Copyright © 2020 Southern Education Foundation. All rights reserved. Privacy | Terms of Use