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Thousands Rally in Los Angeles to Protest War: We Hear from the Rev. James Lawson

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On Sunday, thousands gathered at an antiwar rally organized by the Los Angles chapter of ANSWER. Among the speakers were the Rev. James Lawson, Holman United Methodist Church pastor emeritus.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s program with the Reverend Jim Lawson speaking at the major antiwar rally in Los Angeles this past weekend, where thousands gathered. He’s the president of the L.A. chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

REV. JAMES LAWSON: In 1951, about this time of the year, I found myself sentenced to three years in jail because, with a spirit and consciousness of Jesus, I refused to obey the draft acts. I saw — I saw the draft acts as like segregation laws, immoral and illegal, and I must not touch them or obey them. And so I spent, therefore, 15 months in federal prison as a consequence. Since that time, I have seen the inside of jails in California, in Tennessee, in Mississippi, in West Virginia, in Florida, in Washington, D.C., and Ohio.

And I’m here because I’m in this fight for the long term, not for the short haul. And if we are going to have a movement that can one day disrupt the war machines and the greed machines and racist machines, then you and I have to figure out ways by which we plan and strategize and think and pray and work for the long term. For the long haul is what’s going to be necessary.

Now let me say to you this afternoon, many of us started out talking about we will stop the war in Iraq. We did not stop the war. It’s going on today. And may I say to you, if we are going to be realistic about our situation, we will not stop the next stage of the perpetual war to which President Bush and others have called us. We will not stop it, because the problem is not in Syria or Iran or Iraq, the problem is in the United States. This is where the problem is. And you cannot feed the hungry in Los Angeles over in Iraq. It has to be done here. And we must come to understand that the reason Washington is not interested in feeding the hungry or eradicating racism here is because they still believe in the ideology and the spirituality of white supremacy and white domination. And too many — too many Americans are so hung up on the need for America to be dominating the world that we cannot see you cannot dominate the world if you do not have principles of democracy and truth behind you.

And so, what I want to say to us is that we must plan the movements in Los Angeles whereby we disrupt city life in Los Angeles to such an extent that Los Angeles — Los Angeles joins the movement for justice and peace. Finally, the road to peace is through the paths of justice, through the path of community, through the path of economic opportunity for every boy and girl, quality education, affordable housing and, indeed, an economy in which we the people matter as the number one bottom line, next to no other.

And so I say, I call you and myself to dedicate ourselves to the long, lonely, tedious but glorious struggle by which one day our nation can fulfill its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all people are created equal, by which we establish justice for every person in every part of our land. Let us plan to continue the struggle for truth today and every day until we’ve accomplished the victory.

AMY GOODMAN: The Reverend Jim Lawson of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

That does it for today’s program. If you’d like to get a video or audio cassette copy of today’s program, you can call 1-800-881-2359. That’s 1-800-881-2359. Our website is, our email address mail — M-A-I-L — at Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Angie Karran, Ana Nogueira, Elizabeth Press, with help from Noah Reibel. Special thanks today to Stos Tavares [phon.] for graphics. Mike Di Filippo is our engineer. Again, if you’d like to get a copy of today’s show, 1-800-881-2359. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for listening.

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