Remembering Jim Lawson

 

James Lawson

Jim Lawson and the Shape of Us

James Lawson

In important ways our first steps onto the stage of Movement struggle were made holding the hands of Jim Lawson. Jim—Reverend James Lawson who passed away Sunday, June 9, 2024—played a large role into our coming into existence as SNCC. This was not a matter of philosophy—the nonviolence that he was so identified with—but with resistance, constant struggle, and commitment. He reached out to us with those ideas; bound us to them. With them we became who we are: then and now.

We will avoid biography here. But his work with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, with CORE, with SCLC, his missionary work in India where he explored the work and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, his year in prison as a conscientious objector to the Korean War have to be noted for their pioneering impact guiding us to thoughts and actions outside of the box.
Indeed, Jim’s long life models the old song that Freedom is a constant struggle. Can we really think of sit-ins, picket lines, the Freedom rides without thinking of Jim? Or of heroes and heroines like John Lewis, Diane Nash, Cordell Reagon, or Bernard Lafayette. One of the first groups of student activists who would be vitally important to the formation of SNCC was brought together in Nashville, Tennessee by Jim Lawson.

As has always been traditional in SNCC we argued about many things as we tried to make our way to a better world. But love was always present and may be his greatest legacy.

James Lawson