The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Reverend Lawson lectures on peace and nonviolent protest

Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr. gave advice and shared his experiences in using nonviolence to promote social change during the Civil Discourse and Social Change initiative lecture, Monday night.

“Nonviolence is about creating another source of power in a situation and sufficient enough to change the status quo,” Lawson said.  “Nonviolence is about using your finest values in conflict, using the best understanding of yourself.”

Lawson was inspired by the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi and the Los Angeles sit-ins of 1942 and became a monumental figure of nonviolent protest in the 1960’s.

Lawson said that although people may be in disagreement on how to solve today’s problems, change could take place as long as everyone works together for the common good, and the truth is put out on the table.

In an economic climate where 1 percent of the American people have 40 percent of the nations wealth, the biggest obstacle today in solving social and economic problems is that there are two political parties that are too interested in only electing their people into offices, Lawson said.

“Famine doesn’t occur because there’s not enough food.  The problem is distribution, the problem is democracy,” Lawson said, using Africa’s plight as a comparison.

The United States is not democratic in principle and does not care for all Americans, Lawson said, noting the history of Native Americans and slavery in America.

In a country established by immigration, Lawson noted that this understanding may be difficult to conceive.

“We came from all around the world, and we don’t know ourselves,” he said.

Lawson urged students to work together to take control of the plummeting financial support for their education.  He also noted that for-profit universities are not in the students’ best interests.

“Your tuition should be minimal,” he said.  “They should be at the top of the budget from my tax funds.”

Lawson shared his experience of fighting peacefully against social inequality into the late 1960s. He was part of a team that conducted research in poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Memphis, which had a large number of babies who were malnourished. The team bypassed their congressman, who Lawson said, did not believe there was poverty in Memphis, and went straight to Washington, D.C.  There, they worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and St. Jude’s Hospital and lobbied for funding for a program that fed 1,100 families a month.  Today, Lawson said, the number is up to 2,500 families.

“The movement of the 60s believed that society could be changed,” he said.

Lawson advised students interested on creating change to not worry about their numbers

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