Rev. James Lawson

Reverend James M. Lawson Jr. (1928-) is widely recognized as the pioneer of nonviolence in the American Civil Liberties Movement. He is an activist, minister, and a scholar of the Bible, as well as a living icon embodying the power of nonviolence in securing justice and peace. Rev. Lawson’s major strategic work involved college students who were called to organize and defend the civil rights and defy the inhumane laws of segregation for securing human dignity and equity. Inspired by Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolent methods in India, in the 1950s, Rev. Lawson led revolutionary sit-in workshops in Nashville, TN. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described him as “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.” The movement was successful and resulted in the desegregation of downtown Nashville and became paradigmatic in other American nonviolent movements of the 1980s and 90s.

He lives in Los Angeles where he continues to teach and advocate for nonviolent social change. His books include Revolutionary Nonviolence: Organizing for Freedom and Nonviolence and Social Movements: The Teachings of Reverend James M. Lawson Jr.

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Land Acknowledgment

The Parliament of the World's Religions acknowledges it is situated on the traditional homelands of the Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Hoocąk (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), Jiwere (Otoe), Nutachi (Missouria), and Baxoje (Iowas); Kiash Matchitiwuk (Menominee); Meshkwahkîha (Meskwaki); Asâkîwaki (Sauk); Myaamiaki (Miami), Waayaahtanwaki (Wea), and Peeyankihšiaki (Piankashaw); Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo); Inoka (Illini Confederacy); Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), and Odawak (Odawa).

PoWR recognizes the region we now call Chicago remains home to a diversity of Indigenous peoples today and this land upon which we walk, live, and play continues to be Indigenous land.

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