Reverend James Lawson Jr’s Call for Non Violent, Direct Action

Reverend James Lawson Jr. at Santa Cruz Civic

“I say we must have a movement that brings those troops home and launch a crusade to transform our school buildings, we launch a crusade to see to it that every citizen has adequate and affordable housing, we launch a crusade to make universal health care. We need not soldiers anymore in the world. We’ve had enough of them in western history.”
— James Lawson Jr., Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

On January 21, 2003 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Reverend James Lawson Jr. discussed his forty plus years as an activist for civil rights and human rights during UC Santa Cruz’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation.

Selected quotes of the presentation given by Rev. James Lawson Jr., are published below.

Rev. James Lawson Jr. at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE

No war has brought us freedom.

You and I can not be free unless the people of Iraq, Columbia, Venezuela, the people in the rural areas of America, the people in the urban areas of America also know their liberty in the sight of God.

PLANTATION CAPITALISM

The amount of money that the average person in Africa lives on today is lower than it was 20 years ago and the key cause of that is the continued demand on the part of big business backed by American military that the human and mineral resources of Africa, and Asia and Latin American that became the primary push of the expansion of Europe of the last 500 hundreds years will continue into the 21st century. Globalization is only a big word meaning the continuation of plantation capitalism.

JESUS AND GANDHI

Quoting Jesus:
The bread of the needy is the life of the poor.
Whoever deprives them of it is a murderer.
To take away a neighbor’s living is to commit murder.
To deprive an employee of wages is to shed blood

Quoting Gandhi:
An armed conflict between nations horrifies us, but the economic war is no better than an armed conflict. This is like a surgical operation. An economic war is prolonged torturer and its ravages are no less terrible than depicted in the literature on war.

Economic war is the massive enemy of the six billion people of our nation.

WE LAUNCH A CRUSADE

For 60 years we who see a better vision for ourselves, our families, and one another, we have been protesting American foreign policy and economic policy as its moved us to 100 military installations today to billions of our dollars supporting troops in Japan, in Korea, in Europe, in how many other places in our country? I say we must have a movement that brings those troops home and launch a crusade to transform our school buildings, we launch a crusade to see to it that every citizen has adequate and affordable housing, we launch a crusade to make universal health care. We need not soldiers anymore in the world. We’ve had enough of them in western history.

ASSASSINATION OF MARTIN KING

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated by FBI military intelligence as police people who plotted to cause, I’m now quite sure of this, I know the evidence, and that a part of the reason was in 1967 and ’68 Martin King was plotting to bring the peace movement and the justice movement through the poor people’s campaign to Washington D.C. And this is what he said, “We are going to surround the Pentagon and close it down. We’re going to surround congress until congress votes for the eradication of hunger, and homeless, and poverty in America. We will stay here until we make it impossible for Washington D.C. to operate.”

NASHVILLE CAMPAIGN

If we start the desegregation of downtown Nashville. My college black ministers and NAACP and urban league and university people would have said, “you will only disturb the good grace relations in Nashville, Tennessee.” In fact, that’s what we were accused of. If we had consulted, if we had consulted the mayor, he would have urged us not to try it. But what happened was that some of us were of the mind that the Montgomery bus boycott was not an accident, that it demonstrated the ethicacy of a political action of non-violence, and it could be repeated. So we started in 1959 doing the planning and the working and the preparation. And the Nashville campaign ignited Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

YOU WILL HELP IGNITE ONE DAY

Just as the explosions that caused King to emerge and the movement to emerge, you will help ignite one day in this country again when millions of people from ocean to ocean will be in the streets telling Mr. Bush or whoever is the president that we want now equality, liberty, and justice, and community to become the normative principle.
We shall overcome.

Author: Bradley Allen

Bradley Allen is a reporter and photographer in the Monterey Bay Area, and a collective member of the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay). Follow him on social media: @BradleySA.