It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Although a formal biography of James Lawson is yet to be published, many books on the movement have significant information on his life and work. The following are some of the best.
The Children by David Halberstam
Publication Date: New York: Random House: 1998
Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 by Taylor Branch
Call Number: Essential Read
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988
In volume one of his America in the King Years, Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch gives a masterly account of the American civil rights movement. Moving from the fiery political baptism of Martin Luther King, Jr., to the corridors of Camelot where the Kennedy brothers weighed demands for justice against the deceptions of J. Edgar Hoover, Parting the Waters is a vivid tapestry of America, torn and finally transformed by a revolutionary struggle unequaled since the Civil War. Taylor Branch provides an unsurpassed portrait of King's rise to greatness and illuminates the stunning courage and private conflict, the deals, maneuvers, betrayals, and rivalries that determined history behind closed doors, at boycotts and sit-ins, on bloody freedom rides, and through siege and murder.
Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign by Michael K. Honey
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2007
This book contains substantial information about Lawson, as he was the leader of Community on the Move for Equality (COME), which was formed by 150 local ministers to organize non-violent protest in support of the sanitation workers. See article in the King Encyclopedia
Nonviolence and Social Movements by Ed. by Kent Wong, Ana Luz Gonzalez and James Lawson
Publication Date: Los Angeles, CA : UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, 2016.
On the eve of his assassination, Martin Luther King called Lawson "the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world."Lawson's first nonviolent direct action campaign was in Nashville, where he led the series of lunch-counter sit-ins that successfully challenged segregation. The workshops that Lawson held in the philosophy and strategy of nonviolence trained a new generation of activists who subsequently organized path-breaking campaigns throughout the South, including the Freedom Rides. In California, Lawson has worked with hotel workers, janitors, home care workers, and undocumented immigrant youth to embrace nonviolence in historic organizing victories.This is the first book that captures Lawson's teachings. Five powerful case studies explore how individual acts of conscience can lead to collective action and how the practice of nonviolence can build a powerful movement for social change. This publication emerged from a class taught by James Lawson, Kent Wong, Kelly Lytle Hernandez, and Ana Luz González at UCLA, and it was written by students who were inspired by the class.
Interviews and Documentaries
Interview with James Lawson, 1 of 4 - Freedom Riders: American Experience
Full semester class taught in 2007 – 12 lectures, 2 hours each – 2 mpg files each. James Lawson returns to his alma mater to teach this class on the history and philosophy of non-violence, almost 50 years after being expelled from Vanderbilt for his leadership in the movement to integrated Nashville.