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Theoretician James Lawson Featured Speaker For Wittenberg Series-Sponsored Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation Jan. 16

December 16, 2011  
 Filed in Community, Events

Springfield, Ohio – Once hailed by Martin Luther King Jr. as “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world,” the Rev. James Lawson will address the Wittenberg University and Springfield communities at a celebration of the slain civil rights leader’s life at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 16, in Weaver Chapel.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation was created in 1989 to pay tribute to King and to celebrate his accomplishments, and it is annually part of the Wittenberg Series. Classes and other regularly scheduled academic activities proceed as usual on Martin Luther King Day, with faculty members facilitating discussion of King, his legacy, the civil rights movement or issues of diversity.

Born in Pennsylvania but raised in Massillon, Ohio, Lawson is well known in the civil rights community as a former advisor to King. Together, they were at the forefront of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, conducting sit-ins that forced integration in the south. Lawson continues his work today, telling the Los Angeles Times in 2004 that “the nation must still face up to the ‘spiritual forces’ of poverty, violence and sexism.”

Lawson retired in 1999 as senior pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, and he also served two terms as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group founded by King. Lawson has served as chairman of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, taught at Vanderbilt University and as chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Advisory Council.

UPDATE: The Unity March scheduled to start at 8:15 a.m. from the Springfield Center for the Arts has been CANCELLED. Following the convocation, a question-and-answer session with Lawson is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning, Room 105.

Also, on Thursday, Jan. 12, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Multicultural Programs John Young will moderate a panel discussion led by Julius Bailey, assistant professor of philosophy, Molly Wood, associate professor of history, Sheree Henlon, assistant professor of languages, and Nancy McHugh, professor of philosophy and chair of the department. The event will take place in Bayley Auditorium in the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center.

A variety of influential speakers have addressed Wittenberg’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation, including historian and law professor Mary Frances Berry, author and political commentator Juan Williams, and NAACP Chair and civil rights activist Julian Bond.

The Wittenberg Series brings distinguished lecturers and performing artists of national and international prominence to the Wittenberg campus and Springfield community. To make special arrangements, reserve a Series poster, or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Jeannine Fox at 937-327-7470 or via e-mail at

Written By: Ryan Maurer


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