Civil Rights Icon Rev. James Lawson Jr. Passes Away at 95

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Rev. James M. Lawson Jr. addresses the crowd at the 13th Annual California Hall of Fame California Museum in downtown Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. The civil rights activist lived in Los Angeles for 25 years. (Daniel Kim/The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)
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The world is mourning one of the greatest civil rights icons. Rev. James Lawson Jr. has died at the age of 95. Known for his teachings in nonviolent protests, Lawson passed away Sunday in Los Angeles.

He was a pivotal figure in the civil rights movement. He was imprisoned in 1951 for refusing military service but later studied nonviolence in India. Returning to the U.S., he educated activists, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

From left; Rev. James Lawson, labor union leader Lee Saunders, Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., Rev. Al Sharpton, and Martin Luther King III join a march in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. Lawson, an apostle of nonviolent protest who schooled activists to withstand brutal reactions from white authorities as the civil rights movement gained traction, has died, his family said Monday, June 10, 2024. He was 95. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Lawson played a key role in the lunch counter sit-ins and was expelled from Vanderbilt University for his activism. He was instrumental in founding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and led workshops that influenced major civil rights campaigns, including the Freedom Rides. Martin Luther King Jr. praised Lawson in his speeches for his relentless fight for justice.

Lawson continued to work with civil rights groups, served as a pastor in Los Angeles from 1974 to 1999, and taught at UCLA.


Click play to listen to the report from AURN White House Correspondent Ebony McMorris. For more news, follow @E_N_McMorris & @aurnonline.

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