January 27, 2003
Honor the movement and the man, says colleague
of Martin Luther King Jr.
By Louise Donahue
The civil rights movement was about more than one person, the Rev. James
Lawson told a crowd at UCSC's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation
on January 21.
|The Rev. James Lawson spoke January 21 at
the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. Photos:
Victor Schiffrin, UCSC Photo Services
Lawson, who worked with King in the 1950s and '60s, urged his audience
at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium to honor King while honoring the
wider social justice movement. "This day honors a movement and
a man. No one person can do what needs to be done," he said. "It
must become a movement of the people." Lawson was the keynote speaker
for the 19th annual convocation.
Lawson was crucial in developing the nonviolent strategy used by King,
and remains an antiwar activist. "I am appalled that we have been
debating going to war--how best we can vanquish a people who have not
attacked us." A retired minister, Lawson was part of an interfaith
group that visited Iraq in 2000 to support the lifting of sanctions
against that country.
Lawson also reminded the audience that King pushed for economic rights
as well as civil rights. "Economic warfare is more brutal and destructive
than military warfare," he said. "Globalization is only a
big word meaning the continuation of plantation capitalism."
In a wide-ranging address, Lawson also criticized the role of the
religious right in the Bush administration. "I'm a clergyperson,
but I don't want to be governed by clergypeople. We are in peril, whether
we want to acknowledge it or not."
The convocation was presented by UCSC in cooperation with the Resource
Center for Nonviolence and the NAACP Santa Cruz Chapter.
The day after the speech, Lawson took part in a panel discussion at
UCSC's Mainstage Theater on nonviolent action. In addition to Lawson,
participants included Professor Paul Ortiz of community studies, Professor
Carolyn Martin Shaw of anthropology, and students Marissa Bloom and
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