The problem is not a budget crisis but a vision crisis.
Reverend James M. Lawson Jr.
In its third year, Civil Discourse & Social Change Initiative (CD&SC) at California State University, Northridge continues its work to address current socioeconomic and political issues in light of historic movements, theories and methodologies for social change. The CD&SC initiative’s mission is to create a proactively engaged campus based on humanistic values, inclusivity and social justice. The goal of our initiative this year, as with the previous two years, is to collaborate across colleges and departments, among students, faculty and staff alike, to reflect and discuss approaches to providing affordable quality public education that serves the interests of students, their families and the community.
Many are alarmed by the current trajectory of our public education system. The de-funding of higher education threatens to re-establish exclusionary conditions reminiscent of the pre-Civil Rights Era. This transformation runs counter to California’s mandate of the 1960s to promote quality education for all. California’s economic success and technological growth, ranked among the highest in the nation in earlier decades, is dependent upon affordable post-secondary education. Yet, massive budget cuts have resulted in dramatic tuition increases, limited access for new students and restricted classes and services across the CSU system. Consequently, the CD&SC initiative is working across departments and colleges and with surrounding communities to realize our vision, Education is a Human Right.
Reverend James Lawson, a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King and a leading architect of the Civil Rights Movement, remains committed to working closely with California State University, Northridge campus community on our Civil Discourse and Social Change Initiative. Devoting his life to nonviolent social change informed by the philosophy practiced by Mahatma Gandhi, Reverend Lawson, now in his eighties, reminds us that nonviolence does not mean passivism. Rather, nonviolent action means engendering another view of power—an alternative to violent, destructive power—where people power is used to create equity and justice.
Reverend Lawson's Bio
James Lawson was born in Pennsylvania in 1928. His father and grandfather were Methodist ministers, and Lawson received his local preacher's license in 1947, the year he graduated from high school. At his Methodist college in Ohio, he joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), America's oldest pacifist organization.
After spending time in prison for refusing the Korean War draft, he obtained his B.A. in 1952, and spent the next three years as a campus minister and teacher at Hislop College in Nagpur, India. While in India, Lawson eagerly read of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the emerging nonviolent resistance movement back in the United States.
By 1957, Lawson decided he could no longer sit on the sidelines. He began holding seminars to train volunteers in Gandhian tactics of nonviolent direct action. James Lawson helped coordinate the Freedom Rides in 1961 and the Meredith March in 1966, and played a major role in the sanitation workers strike of 1968. On the eve of his assassination, Martin Luther King called Lawson "the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world."
In 1974, Lawson moved to Los Angles to be the pastor of Holman Methodist Church. He spoke out against racism, and challenged the cold war and U.S. military involvement throughout the world. Even after his retirement, Lawson was protesting with the Janitors for Justice in Los Angeles, and with gay and lesbian Methodists in Cleveland.
Source: PBS website http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/witnesses/james_lawson.html