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Inside CFT: Remembering civil rights icon Reverend James Lawson, Jr.

Remembering civil rights icon Reverend James Lawson, Jr.

We are very sorry to report the passing of civil rights leader Reverend James Lawson, Jr., a lifelong advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence and a former CFT member.

Rev. Lawson dedicated his life to advancing nonviolence and social justice. He was a close friend and comrade of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who called Rev. Lawson “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.”

In 1960, Rev. Lawson launched the lunch counter sit-in campaign to desegregate public facilities in Nashville, Tennessee. The Nashville sit-in leaders went on to mobilize the Freedom Rides of the 1960’s, and spread the teachings of nonviolence throughout the South.

Rev. Lawson was also a leading force for social change in California, where he lived for over 50 years. A UCLA Labor Studies faculty member, and member of UC-AFT, Lawson taught a course on nonviolence at UCLA for over 20 years, inspiring thousands of students to pursue a path of peace and social justice.

Former UCLA Labor Center director, and CFT Vice President, Kent Wong, who co-taught the nonviolence course alongside Lawson, expressed profound admiration and respect for the loss of his esteemed mentor and friend.

“Rev. Lawson was an extraordinary visionary leader who introduced the philosophy of nonviolence to a new generation of Los Angeles labor and civil rights leaders,” Wong said in a statement via the UCLA Labor Center. “Our deepest condolences go out to his family. Let us all continue to carry on his memory and legacy.”

Pictured above: Reverend James Lawson, Jr. speaks to UCLA interns (Photo courtesy UCLA Labor Center).

CFT celebrates Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed legislation establishing Juneteenth as a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. Today Juneteenth celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic, and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this day from which a national day of pride is growing.

There are celebrations all over California in the coming days, which you can join to recognize this historic day of freedom. For more information and resources, check out the Juneteenth page on the CFT website.

CFT Executive Council calls for a cease-fire in Gaza and the end of the weaponization of hate

Last weekend the CFT Executive Council voted to release a statement calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and the end of the weaponization of hate. See the full statement here.

CFT Pride shirts now available online

There is no better way to celebrate Pride Month than by ordering CFT’s newest Pride t-shirts online, available in both uni-sex and women’s cuts. Order here.

Pictured above, CFT leaders and members from throughout the state took part in the Sacramento Pride festival last Sunday. Check out these great videos (Video 1 | Video 2) on Instagram for more on the event. Whether LGBTQ+ or an ally, we encourage you to join a Pride celebration near you.

For more, check out the CFT Pride resources on our web page.

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