|English | Español||April 22, 2018 | Issue #65|
“There Is No Modern Day Equivalent of the Civil Rights Movement”
An Interview with Rev. James Lawson at the School of Authentic Journalism
By Andrew Stelzer
The Rev. James Lawson gave the keynote talk at the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico on “Journalism and Civil Resistance.”
Photo: D.R. 2010 by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky
I also asked Lawson about adherence to non-violence, whether non-violent civil resistance could still work in 2010, and whether lessons from the deep south could be applied to Latin American social movements of today.
While Lawson’s views on the current state of affairs might seem pessimistic, it’s hard to dispute the wisdom of his years, both on the planet and in the struggle. In this interview, he calls on (North) Americans to focus on eliminating racism, practicing non-violence, and working against the system of ‘plantation capitalism’, as he calls it, wherever it rears its ugly head. He calls for a ‘convergence’ of issues and activists, to see their struggles as one in the same, and not silo themselves, thereby weakening the movement. He also won’t budge on non-violence as the only tactic that works, with an interesting asterisk applied to comrade Fidel in Cuba.
Towards the end of the interview, I asked him about the legacy of Martin Luther King, and how its been whitewashed by the media. “The media is always going to domesticate issues in the United States.” Lawson responded. But Lawson didn’t put the blame on the press, a press that has never favored his side, in 1960 or today. Lawson instead calls on the left (and white left in particular) to step up, to celebrate Dr. Kings legacy and educate society about what it really means, and in the wake of Kings teachings, to continue the non-violent struggle today.
Lawson believes that change takes decades to achieve. He was part of a generation that proved that to be true. The question remains—do we still have the patience and the discipline today?
Take a listen and judge for yourself.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism