Civil rights leader calls for more work to be done

Posted by ncarter | 01/19/2010 06:40 AM

Story by Preston Sparks, The Augusta Chronicle
Photo courtesy of Rainier Ehrhardt/The Augusta Chronicle

At an event honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a man who knew him well, the Rev. James Lawson, told an Augusta crowd Friday that more work is needed in the struggle for equality.

"To remember the '60s in Augusta, you have come a long way. And you have a long way to go," the civil rights leader said during the gathering, which was held at Paine College and included officials from Paine, Augusta State University, Augusta Technical College and Medical College of Georgia.
The Rev. Lawson told the hundreds packed into Paine's Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel that the civil rights movement, part of which he spent working with Dr. King, spanned the 1950s through the 1970s and "was too short and was aborted before its time by the forces of violence and racism in the United States."
"We need a fresh burst in the United States of equality, liberty and justice for all, and we the people must make it happen," he said. "Obama and the Congresses and governors will not do it unless we ordinary people are mobilized for change."

Speaking of President Obama, the Rev. Lawson -- a retired Methodist pastor and now Distinguished University Professor at Vanderbilt University -- said "we have every reason this year to celebrate," but added, "the white majority of this country did not vote for Barack Obama."
The Rev. Lawson also mentioned an incident in the news in which Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was quoted in a book referring in 2008 to then-Sen. Obama as "light-skinned" and "with no Negro dialect."

Mr. Reid apologized to the president, who said he forgave the senator.
"We will continue to have such incidents of that because racism is a fact of life in the United States no matter how much we may deny it," the Rev. Lawson said. "No matter how much we may want to run away from it, it is a reality."

The Rev. Lawson then spoke of his time with Dr. King, whose life and legacy will be honored Monday with a federal holiday. The retired pastor, whom Dr. King once dubbed "the leading nonviolence theorist in the world," recalled how he first met Dr. King in the '50s and how Dr. King asked for his help.
In 1968 the Rev. Lawson invited Dr. King to Memphis to help black sanitation workers who had gone on strike.
The day before his assassination, Dr. King delivered his famous "Mountaintop" speech in support of the strikers.

"On the last day of his life, we met early in the morning for about an hour or so of discussion," the Rev. Lawson said.

He said Dr. King's movement was about recognizing that "every human being is in the image of God and should be treated like that in all facets."
At Friday's event the crowd sang spirituals and ended with blacks and whites seated next to one another, holding hands and collecting money for those in Haiti affected by this week's deadly earthquake.
For Paine College freshman Michael Woodard, the event was a call to change for the better.

"It's up to the youth to take that step forward," he said.

Civil Rights Leader keynote speaker for Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration

Posted by ncarter | 01/15/2010 05:58 AM


CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER KEYNOTE SPEAKER FOR ANNUAL 
MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY CELEBRATION

(AUGUSTA, GA)– On January 15, 2010 Paine College,Augusta Technical College, Augusta State University and Medical College of Georgia will present the annual Tri-College Martin Luther King Day Celebration. The event will began at 12 p.m. in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel. This years, keynote speaker is The Reverend James Lawson, professor, pastor and civil rights leader.

Lawson first met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957, and they soon joined forces to realize their dream of starting a non-violent mass movement and continued to work with King until his death but has never given up on their shared dream of racial harmony.

Lawson was dubbed by King as “the leading nonviolence theorist in the world,” studied the Gandhian movement in India before becoming a leader in the civil rights movement. His life – including his student years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. has been marked by an abiding faith in Christianity and non-violence, and a willingness to pay the price for those beliefs.

He served 13 months of a three-year prison sentence for refusing the draft during the Korean War, and was expelled from Vanderbilt in 1960 because of his work helping to desegregate lunch counters in downtown Nashville. After a national press uproar and threats of mass faculty resignations, a compromise allowed Lawson to complete his graduate studies at Vanderbilt University. He opted instead to complete his degree at Boston University.

Lawson went on to a career in the ministry, serving for 25 years as pastor of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, before becoming pastor emeritus in 1999. He returned to Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1970-71 during a sabbatical, and that school recognized him in 1996 with its first Distinguished Alumnus Award. The Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni named Lawson the 2002 Walter R. Murray Distinguished Alumnus, and he was named Vanderbilt’s 2005 Distinguished Alumnus.

He continues to spend much of his time at Vanderbilt teaching, speaking and participating in discussion groups with faculty. Lawson was interviewed for the original documentary on the civil rights movement, and is delighted that another generation can view “Eyes on the Prize”. 

“It gives a picture of the scope of the (civil rights) movement,” Lawson said. “Dr. (Martin Luther) King and the movement in the black South, especially in the ‘50s and ‘60s, represents the zenith of the struggle of the American people to become the kind of people that … this idealist wants us to become.”

Vanderbilt archiving experts are cataloguing his papers, and Lawson plans to do some writing – perhaps an autobiography – based on the papers.

For more information, please contact Natasha Carter at (706) 396-7591.

###
Paine College is a church-related, four-year private institution. The mission of Paine College is to provide a liberal arts education of the highest quality that emphasizes academic excellence, ethical and spiritual values, social responsibility, and personal development to prepare men and women for positions of leadership and service in the African American community, the nation, and the world. Paine College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate degrees and functions partly by the generous support of The United Methodist Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the United Negro College Fund. For additional information visit www.paine.edu.

Civil rights leader keynote speaker for annual MLK Day Celebration

Posted by ncarter | 12/9/2009 12:52 PM


(AUGUSTA, GA)– On January 15, 2010 Paine College, Augusta Technical College, Augusta State University and Medical College of Georgia will present the annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration. The event will began at 12 p.m. in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel. This years, keynote speaker is The Reverend James Lawson, professor, pastor and civil rights leader.

Lawson first met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957, and they soon joined forces to realize their dream of starting a non-violent mass movement and continued to work with King until his death but has never given up on their shared dream of racial harmony.

Lawson was dubbed by King as “the leading nonviolence theorist in the world,” studied the Gandhian movement in India before becoming a leader in the civil rights movement. His life – including his student years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. has been marked by an abiding faith in Christianity and non-violence, and a willingness to pay the price for those beliefs.

He served 13 months of a three-year prison sentence for refusing the draft during the Korean War, and was expelled from Vanderbilt in 1960 because of his work helping to desegregate lunch counters in downtown Nashville. After a national press uproar and threats of mass faculty resignations, a compromise allowed Lawson to complete his graduate studies at Vanderbilt University. He opted instead to complete his degree at Boston University.

Lawson went on to a career in the ministry, serving for 25 years as pastor of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, before becoming pastor emeritus in 1999. He returned to Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1970-71 during a sabbatical, and that school recognized him in 1996 with its first Distinguished Alumnus Award. The Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni named Lawson the 2002 Walter R. Murray Distinguished Alumnus, and he was named Vanderbilt’s 2005 Distinguished Alumnus.

He continues to spend much of his time at Vanderbilt teaching, speaking and participating in discussion groups with faculty. Lawson was interviewed for the original documentary on the civil rights movement, and is delighted that another generation can view “Eyes on the Prize”. 

“It gives a picture of the scope of the (civil rights) movement,” Lawson said. “Dr. (Martin Luther) King and the movement in the black South, especially in the ‘50s and ‘60s, represents the zenith of the struggle of the American people to become the kind of people that … this idealist wants us to become.”

Vanderbilt archiving experts are cataloguing his papers, and Lawson plans to do some writing – perhaps an autobiography – based on the papers.

For more information, please contact Natasha Carter at (706) 396-7591.

###
Paine College is a church-related, four-year private institution. The mission of Paine College is to provide a liberal arts education of the highest quality that emphasizes academic excellence, ethical and spiritual values, social responsibility, and personal development to prepare men and women for positions of leadership and service in the African American community, the nation, and the world. Paine College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate degrees and functions partly by the generous support of The United Methodist Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the United Negro College Fund. For additional information visit www.paine.edu.