This week’s special guest on A Nation Divided with Brian Dunn is Rev. James M. Lawson, one of the great leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement. An advocate of nonviolent protesting and lobbying, Lawson is perhaps most remembered for inviting the Rev. Martin Luther King, JR. to give a speech in Memphis (the “Mountaintop Speech”); this visit would ultimately be where King was tragically assassinated. However, Lawson was also an active member of the Civil Rights Movement, and did many great things to end segregation where he could.
After receiving guidance from King in 1957, Lawson moved to the south in order to spread the idea of nonviolent tactics. He trained many leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Marion Berry, John Lewis, and James Bevel. His participation in transportation sit-ins with the Freedom Riders helped lead to the end of segregated public transportation in Nashville. Lawson also helped in movements such as Mississippi Freedom Summer, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement, and the 1966 Chicago Open Housing Movement. He became the head of the Memphis Sanitary Workers Strike in 1968, which is in part why he invited King to give a speech. In the 1970s he became a pastor in California and hosted a radio show called “Lawson Live” where he discussed civil and human rights with his listeners.
To this day, Lawson still remains a respected Christian and Civil Rights leader, and his nonviolent approach to helping his fellow man was a driving force during the 1960s and 70s. Please tune in this Saturday at 4 pm on KABC-AM 790 to hear him on A Nation Divided with Brian Dunn!