I met Reverend C.T. Vivian in 1956 when I started marching in protests for equality and voting rights for brothers and sisters across America. At eight years of age, I vividly remember the death of Emmett Till and the great Rosa Parks refusing to get out of the seat in Montgomery, Alabama. I remember Mt. Zion being the only Black church in Peoria that would allow the NAACP to hold civil rights protest meetings.
During that time, I met a man that was an eloquent speaker, brave, determined, and dedicated to God almighty. Years later, Reverend Vivian was visiting Mt. Zion, and it was my “Sunday to preach!” I was totally in shock and forgot to give my sermon text. My legs were shaking, and I couldn’t speak because I immediately became hoarse. That was the longest 25 minutes of my life!
Rev. Vivian said, “I need to talk with you, Rev. Williams. What happened?” I answered I was intimidated by his presence, realizing he was one of the greatest and well-known figures in America.
He said, “Rev. Williams, I have known you since you were a child and let me give you some sound advice: Never let any man ever intimidate you. They can only put on their pants one leg at a time.” From that day until this, I have never let anyone intimidate me. Thank you, Rev. Vivian, for that teachable moment God gave to you to give to me. My God is so awesome I will take that moment to my grave.
In the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I fear no man, mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, and no man will ever intimidate me.”
Rev. Vivian, God blessed me to be associated with you. Thank God, and thank you.