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Sculptor Preston Jackson Working On Tributes To Civil Rights Leader C.T. Vivian

Courtesy Preston Jackson

Artist Preston Jackson is on a mission to create three busts memorializing the late civil rights leader C.T. Vivian.

Jackson wants to place the busts in the cities of Peoria, Macomb, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Vivian grew up in Macomb and attended Western Illinois University before moving to Peoria, where he worked as a civil rights activist. Vivian moved to Atlanta in the 1970s to found the Black Action Strategies and Information Center that promotes multiculturalism and better race relations.

Jackson has known Vivian's daughter for years, and hosted Vivian himself in his studio once.

"I was in a place with a man who not only suffered a lot, but gave a lot," said Jackson. "And we see the results of his giving. Especially his philosophy of nonviolent involvement. And at the same time, the war was won. It worked."

Vivian lived in Peoria in the late 1940s, where he helped to integrate lunch counters. He also worked at the Carver Community Center in South Peoria.

Jackson said his sculptures may have minor variations, but will look largely similar. He's placing particular emphasis on Vivian's hands that Jackson said were a major component of his body language.

Jackson needs $75,000 to fund creation of the three sculptures, or $25,000 per sculpture. He's raising the money on Facebook.

Marshall Svendsen, director of True Form Productions bronze foundry in Chicago, has funded half the cost of production.

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Tim Shelley is the Assignment Editor and Digital Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.