James M. Lawson, Jr. has spent his lifetime refusing to comply with that which is unjust, that which is violent, and that which is immoral. For this, he has garnered little fame but has transformed the lives of countless people suffering from discrimination and oppression in all of their forms. This study examines the life, work, and nonviolent philosophy of James M. Lawson, Jr. and the evolution of his philosophy over time. From his intensive studies of Howard Thurman and Mahatma Gandhi, Lawson became a scholar of nonviolence; for his Workshops on Nonviolence in Nashville, he became a teacher of nonviolence; and for his lifelong devotion to societal reform to alleviate all oppressed persons of their suffering, he has become a nonviolent saint. Since Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in the spring of 1968 during the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, Lawson has spent his last fifty years in a relentless attempt to awaken this nation from its moral stupor so that it may realize the ideals of justice and equality to which it has always claimed to adhere, but has yet to practice.


Kammer, Charles

Second Advisor

King, Shannon


History; Religious Studies


African American Studies | Christianity | Ethics in Religion | Labor History | Practical Theology | Social History | United States History


The Civil Rights Movement, Nonviolence

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Kristen Estabrook