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Rev. James Lawson, Who Taught Nonviolence to Civil Rights Activists, Dies at 95

HeadlineJun 11, 2024

The Reverend James Lawson has died at the age of 95. Lawson was a godfather of the civil rights movement whom Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once called the “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.” During the Korean War in the 1950s, James Lawson was imprisoned for refusing to be drafted into the U.S. Army. He was later expelled from Vanderbilt University Divinity School for helping to organize lunch counter sit-in protests against segregation. As a missionary in India, Lawson studied Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence; he would go on to teach nonviolent civil disobedience tactics to rank-and-file activists in the civil rights movement. In 2020, Reverend Lawson was among speakers at the funeral of Congressmember John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Rev. James Lawson Jr.: “We will not be quiet as long as our nation continues to be the most violent culture in the history of humankind. We will not be quiet as long as our economy is shaped not by freedom but by plantation capitalism that continues to cause domination and control rather than access and liberty and equality for all.”

Click here to see our interviews with Rev. James Lawson.

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