Jun 11, 2024 - News

Nashville leaders react to Lawson's death

The Rev James Lawson leads a meeting for sit-ins.

The Rev. James Lawson, far left, leads a meeting discussing sit-ins in a 1960 photo. Photo: Donald Uhrbrock/Getty Images

Leaders in Nashville and across the state reacted Monday to news of the death of civil rights leader the Rev. James Lawson..

Metro Councilmember Zulfat Suara

"We cannot talk about civil rights in America or Nashville without Rev. James Lawson. It was Lawson that used his ministry and experience studying abroad in India to train young activists like John Lewis and Diane Nash in nonviolent resistance."

  • "It was Lawson who formed the strategy for the sit-ins here in Nashville. And it was Lawson who helped guide the development of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960."
  • "He was a living testament of the struggle for African-Americans in this country and a reminder of all the work, still to be done."

Nashville Mayor Freddie O'Connell

"James Lawson represented the best of us and trained activists to withstand the worst of our nature."

  • "His passing [Sunday] is a reminder of the power of one man to alter history and that we still have work to do to realize a more equitable, just society."

State House minority leader Rep. Karen Camper

Camper pointed out in a statement that in addition to conducting nonviolent training in Nashville, Lawson helped lead the sanitation workers strike in Memphis in 1968.

  • "Rev. Lawson's life is essentially intertwined in some of the most important moments in Tennessee history and his level of commitment never wavered over his lifetime," Camper said.

Davidson County Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite

"Rev Lawson's legacy will forever impact the world for his commitment to nonviolent activism in generations past and present, playing a crucial role in shaping social change movements everywhere."

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