So she left home Tuesday morning with a Confederate flag draped around her shoulders and a red loop hanging from her neck.
An unconventional lesson made some people scratch their heads, but those who know Bivins said it makes sense.
When Carlos Wilson saw Bivins outside his polling station in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, he had an idea of what she wanted.
“Claudia is a very frank, very conscious woman … If there is something that needs to be said – it needs to be said – and if she is there, she is one of those people who will say it,” he said. Wilson, a pastor at the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, met the Bivins about 10 years ago with a function related to their common interests of political activity and social justice.
“I immediately understood what was going on, but I always like to hear her story, so I asked what the deal was today.”
Bivins told CNN that her trip to the polls was a field trip with her 7-year-old grandson.
She brought the loop, she said, to symbolize the past lynching of her ancestors. The flag was supposed to represent the heavy burden of racism that still exists on its shoulders today, she said.
“I'm still pulling,” said Bivins. "The flag represents racism, slavery and unhappiness."
Bivins was part of the first integrated class in her high school, she added, adding that one of the lessons she shared with her grandson on Tuesday was that she was not allowed to go to the school that he now attends when she was his age.
After the vote, Bivins took her grandson to a place where she often visited: the tomb of Vernon Dahmer, a civil rights activist who was killed by the Ku Klux Klan for organizing voter registration for African Americans.
Last year, Bivins said she often visited Dahmer’s grave on election days. This year, she and her grandson laid the flag of the Confederation over his grave and put olive branches and peppermint on it. She said that the olive branch symbolizes the champion, who was Dahmer, and peppermint represents healing.
“When I put the rebel flag on Vernon’s grave, I told my grandson what he represents – we hope that racism and hatred will die,” said Bivins. "It will be killed at the root of our hearts, minds, and souls."
Bivins said her demonstration was inspired by this week’s election, which led to racism and lynching in the past Mississippi. On the ballot was Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who told a supporter that she would be “in the front row” if he “invited me to a public post.”
Her campaign team called the comment an “exaggerated look”, but this comment still cost her support from major donors like Walmart and Google.
CNN also reported that Hyde-Smith once put forward a measure that praised the Confederate soldier’s attempt to “defend his homeland” and put forward a revisionist view of civil war.
Bivins told CNN that she disagreed with President Donald Trump's decision to campaign for Hyde-Smith.
“Some people thought (the Bivins demonstration) was a bad taste,” said Wilson. "But if you know Claudia, and if you know the message she tried to send, those of us who know her are very proud of her."
Among those who initially discovered that the actions of the Bivins were postponed, were members of the Dahmer family.
Vernon Dahmer was the co-founder of Hattiesburg chapter NAACP. In 1964, he and the Student Committee on Nonviolent Cooperation (SNCC) organized a voter registration movement.
His mantra was "if you do not vote, you do not think."
The movement was met with threats of violence, and – for their work in registering African Americans to vote – the Dahmer family was met with death threats.
After two years of work on voter registration, Dahmer appeared on a radio show to announce that he would help pay income taxes to those who could not afford it. The next day, the Ku Klux Klan burned a bomb from Dahmer's farm, killing him.
Confusion, anxiety, gratitude
Dennis Dahmer was driving along the highway when his older brother Vernon Jr. contacted him and told him about the woman who had laid the Confederation flag on his father’s grave.
“At first we really didn’t know what was going on. You see something similar, especially in a place like Mississippi, with the story that it has, you do not know what to think, but usually this is bad. ”
But then Dennis Dahmer found out that Bivins was African American and an activist. They talked, and she assured him that she would return to remove the flag.
Even when he learned that Bivins intended to honor his father, Dennis Dahmer was concerned about her method. He was worried that, like him, others would not know which message to take away.
He also did not encourage the use of graves for any kind of activation for the loved ones who were buried.
“It brings back all the bad memories that we never forget. It brings you back, ”said Dahmer.
However, Dahmer said he approves of Bivins for her activism.
“We just need more people to be vocal, to be visual about how they relate to what is happening in America right now,” said Dahmer.
“Now is the time to loudly send this message:“ Hey, this stuff that happens is not the best from America. ”