"Councilmember C.T. Martin was a mentor and a friend," Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said. "He was my seatmate for eight years on City Council and his lessons of leadership remain with me today. He was a fierce voice for the voiceless and above all else, placed the needs of our communities first. While his physical presence will be missed, his legacy of activism and fight for equity will impact our city for generations to come."
Martin earned the moniker “Dean” because of his long tenure on the council. He represented Atlanta’s District 10 for nearly 30 years. Martin first ran for a seat on the City Council in 1990 after Ira Jackson stepped down to become Mayor Maynard H. Jackson’s aviation commissioner.
Martin — who had also worked for Maynard Jackson, the city’s first African American mayor — defeated eight opponents in the race for the District 10 seat and held it until 2017 when he ran in a failed bid for City Council president.
When Martin left office in 2017, the city of Atlanta renamed the $27 million Adamsville Recreation Center to the C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center as a tribute to his many decades of service.
A longtime advocate for the Southside, Martin fought to include the designation of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive as a priority in the city’s master redevelopment plan. He also helped lead the effort to rename Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in honor of Jackson. City Council member Michael Julian Bond said Martin was instrumental in helping integrate the neighborhoods around Atlanta’s Peyton Road, the site of the city’s so-called “Berlin Wall” during the early 1960s.
Julian Bond said that over the years Martin was frequently sought out for his intimate knowledge of Atlanta. “He was an insightful and a private adviser to many people in and out of politics,”
Martin is survived by four children and five grandchildren.
About C.T. Martin
Officials said a man who spent decades on the Atlanta City Council as one of its longest-serving former members died Saturday, May 8, 2021. C.T. Martin, after whom the natatorium and recreation center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is named, died at 84 years old surrounded by his family at his home in southwest Atlanta.
Martin was an Atlanta native and graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. He was an undergraduate at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and earned a master's degree from Atlanta University. That's when he became vocal about community issues in the district that encompasses neighborhoods on the west side of the city, mostly south of the Interstate 20 and Interstate 285 interchange.
Former Atlanta City Councilmember C.T. Martin passed away today surrounded by his family at his home in Southwest Atlanta. In December 2017, the City of Atlanta renamed the $27 Million Dollar Adamsville Recreation Center to the C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center as a tribute to his many decades of service.
Martin began his life of service pushing voter registration with the NAACP. He later began volunteering in political campaigns, including assisting mayoral candidates across the region. After graduating from Shaw University with a Bachelor of Science degree, he expected to become an educator and raise a family, but fate had something else in store. Martin later earned a Master of Science degree from Atlanta University and began taking on community issues like fighting for millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements in District 10.
“For twenty years of my public service career, it was my privilege to serve with Council Member Martin,” said Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore. “He established his own footprint during the Civil Rights Era and managed to further extend his leadership as an elected official with significant influence.”
Since his election in 1990, Martin worked to bring the voice of visionary African Americans to the forefront to impact national policy. He was a champion for minority businesses in Atlanta and a fierce “get out the vote” campaign manager throughout the region. He served as a Council member for District 10 for nearly 30 years. He is credited with mentoring and developing many young people over the years, including his eventual successor, Councilmember Andrea L. Boone.
An undated photo of C.T. Martin and U.S. Representative John Lewis. (Photo: Courtesy of Nomsa Hampton)
About Dr. Jesse "JC" Futrell
Rev. Vivian’s civil rights work continued for a half-century. He became director of the Urban Training Center for Christian Mission in Chicago in 1966, and dean of the Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, N.C., in 1972.
He later founded the Black Action Strategies and Information Center in Atlanta to foster workplace race relations and was a co-founder of the National Anti-Klan Network, which monitored hate groups and was later renamed the Center for Democratic Renewal to reflect broader educational goals.
He was deputy director for clergy in the 1984 presidential campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, appeared on “Eyes on the Prize” (1987), a 14-part PBS documentary on the civil rights era, and was later the focus of a PBS special, “The Healing Ministry of Dr. C.T. Vivian.”
He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in 2013.
Director of Seminary Without Walls at Shaw University Divinity School
Fallen Bear, CT Vivian, Civil rights leader Rev. Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian has died at age 95, his daughter Kira Vivian told CNN.
After leaving SCLC in 1966, he moved to Chicago to direct the Urban Training Center for Christian Missions where he trained clergy, community leaders, and others to organize. Later, as a coordinator for the Coalition for United Community Action, he led a direct-action campaign against racism in trade unions and helped mediate a truce among Chicago gangs. In 1972, he became the director of Seminary Without Walls at Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, N.C.
About CT Vivian
Founder/Dean, Alternative Education and National Director, Seminary Without Walls. Shaw University Divinity School, Raleigh, North Carolina. The alternative system of independent, off-campus study offered the B.Th. and M. Div. Degrees.
The educational delivery system was invented, designed, and administered by the Director who personally gained funding for the concept through the Lilly Endowment and placed the experimental phases on the Shaw University Campus.
Paying tribute to Civil Rights icon C.T. Vivian
President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rev. Vivian in 2013. Credit…Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post, via Getty Images.
Rivers, 67, said he was 21 when he met Vivian at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Back then, he worked as an audio director when Vivian was the dean of the university’s divinity school. The two remained close over the years and Rivers said he handled the business side of Vivian’s work.