Rev. James Lawson, seated, spoke to John Adams Middle School students about his efforts organizing nonviolent protests in the 1960s alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders.
School hosts civil rights leader
Rev. James Lawson, 94, spoke to students in honor of Black History Month
February 27, 2023
Students and staff from John Adams Middle School (Santa Monica-Malibu USD) welcomed professor and American activist Rev. James Lawson to campus as a guest speaker to commemorate Black History Month.
Lawson, 94, a pastor and pioneering civil rights leader, spoke to students and staff about his involvement and efforts organizing nonviolent protests in the 1960s in Nashville, Tenn., and across the South. Students viewed a slideshow of black and white photos featuring Lawson with the late Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists.
Lawson shared stories about his childhood and first brushes with racism. He also spoke about his time in Nagpur, India, where he studied “satyagraha,” a form of nonviolent resistance developed by Mahatma Gandhi and his followers. Lawson later took a position at Vanderbilt University in Nashville as a professor where he taught nonviolent resistance. The techniques taught to students helped play a leading role in the Open Theater Movement, the Freedom Rides and the March on Washington in 1963.
“It was such an honor to have Lawson speak to students about love and respect for self and others and giving them the tools they can use today,” said John Adams Principal Martha Chacon.
The presentation concluded with Lawson answering follow-up questions from students and staff.
“Your words of wisdom have really impacted me as a young Mexican-American woman in today’s society,” said Angelina, a JAMS eighth grade student, to Lawson. “I never really had a full understanding of how someone’s voice could make such a big difference. It made me realize that it is not just about speaking up, but taking action as well.”
Contact Us
© 2023 Association of California School Administrators