Reverend James Lawson, a historic leader in the Civil Rights movement and one of the most important theoreticians of non-violent forms of resistance, visited the UCLA Labor Center this month. He was greeted by members of the Los Angeles community and was introduced by Maria Elena Durazo from the Los Angeles Federation of Labor.
He recalled painful times, even in our own city of Los Angeles:
“in Glendale…there was a sign that said ‘no negro should allow the Sun to set on him in Glendale’” and “in San Clemente, there were signs that said ‘No Jew allowed in San Clemente”
He spoke of the courage, planning, and discipline it takes to successfully use non-violent strategies, and he congratulated dreamers on their perseverance in seeking social justice.
He also connected the injustices against immigrants today with the injustices against colored people throughout America’s history. “The issue in the United States is not these young men and women, the issue is the United States again, in the sight of God there is no such thing as an ‘illegal human being’”. As we fight for our rights as human beings, it is encouraging and essential to create spaces where we can learn from those who successfully struggled for their rights in the past.