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The Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr.

The Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr.

Conference Speaker for the Gandhi-King Global Initiative (GKGI) Conference: The Uplift of All: Gandhi, King, and the Global Struggle for Freedom and Justice; October 11-13, 2019

A third-generation Methodist minister, the Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr., who was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, earned his local pastor’s license in 1949. Soon after being graduated from high school, he was drafted into the U.S. military, refused to enlist, and as a conscientious objector received a three-year prison sentence, of which he served 13 months.
Following his prison term, Lawson served as a missionary in India for three years, where he studied nonviolent resistance and embraced the practices of Mohandas K. Gandhi, whom he had first begun to study in 1947. 
In his long and storied history, Lawson orchestrated the lunch counter sit-in campaign in Nashville, Tennessee, the largest and most influential of the southern student sit-in campaigns; developed strategy for the Freedom Riders; and taught the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action to students, activists, future civil rights leaders, and politicians, including U.S. Representative John R. Lewis. The Reverend Lawson has been active in many campaigns and in the instruction of emergent leaders. Often referred to as “the mind of the movement,” the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., called him "the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world." He remains a staunch defender of human rights.

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