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Civil Rights Icon, Reverend James Lawson Jr., Dead at 95

Reverend James Lawson Jr., an early architect of the nonviolent protests during the Civil Rights Movement, died on Monday. He was 95. 

Reverend James Lawson Jr.Reverend James Lawson Jr.

Lawson served for decades as a professor, labor movement organizer and university professor. In 2021, more than four decades after Vanderbilt University expelled Lawson for his involvement in the civil rights movement, the private, Nashville University decided to honor the civil rights stalwart with the creation of the James Lawson Institute for the Research and Study of Nonviolent Movements at Vanderbilt University.

Despite his unjust expulsion from the university back in 1960, Lawson and Vanderbilt reconciled, with him joining the faculty as a Distinguished University Professor.

A staunch follower of the teachings of Mahatma Gandi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lawson taught nonviolent social change to a group of college students who would go on to become members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and revolutionize the nation by staging sit-ins at segregated lunch counters throughout the South. The late Congressman John Lewis was among that group of SNCC activists.

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