What Matters is Not to Know the World, But To Change It
Celebrating its fourth year, the Civil Discourse and Social Change Initiative (CDSC), at California State University, Northridge, continues to create a culture where social justice is a permanent part of the institutional make-up, by engendering a community of consciousness, academic engagement, and advocacy.
Through research, action, collaboration, and creative imagination, members of CDSC are forging on-the-ground partnerships with CSUN colleges, departments, students and community organizations to realize our vision, Education is a Human Right. Civil Discourse & Social Change serves as a champion of social justice work on campus that has an impact locally, nationally and internationally. In accordance with this objective CDSC has become a hub for discourse surrounding social justice issues related to mass incarceration, immigration, spirituality/religion and the history of social movements. This year we will expand the conversation by addressing ideas intended to bring about social change and empowerment related to digital media storytelling and health & healing.
The ultimate purpose of our Initiative is to facilitate the merging of students’ education with practical, yet visionary, tools for them to develop responsible activism. We also aim to encourage critical thinking that will assist them in becoming social change agents and ethical and socially-conscious professionals. We trust that the initiative can contribute to a better society by expanding our understanding of the uses of power and knowledge, so as to create a more just and nonviolent world.
The problem is not a budget crisis but a vision crisis.
Reverend James M. Lawson Jr.
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.
Congressman John Lewis, and recent author of March Book 1 recounts his activists years in the Civil Rights Movement, and mentions our own Reverend James M. Lawson Jr. as one of the most influencial men in his life. Watch John Lewis’ interviews with Bill Moyers (Jul 26, 2013) and with National Public Radio (August 14).
Source: PBS website http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/witnesses/james_lawson.html