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June 14, 2024

The civil rights titan was on board of SoCal ACLU affiliate for decades  

LOS ANGELES – Rev. James Lawson Jr., a founding father of the civil rights struggle and lifelong advocate for nonviolent action, lent his expertise and knowledge to the ACLU SoCal for many decades and as a member of its board of directors. In 2006, Lawson was elected as chair of the National Advisory Council of the national ACLU.  

"Racism in the United States was always a linking of economic deprivation with the subjugation of people of color,” Lawson said in a 1999 interview in the ACLU SoCal’s Open Forum. “In my judgment, racism has never been primarily prejudice. It has always been about domination, power, violence and—for lack of a better phrase—what I call structured poverty. Slavery was a structure that ensured some people would not be allowed to earn enough to care for themselves and influence the shaping of their environment, and America has continued that. In my mind, you cannot separate the institution of racism from economic subjugation." 

Lawson was honored at the 1984 ACLU SoCal Bill of Rights Awards with the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award.  

Please attribute the following statement to Carlos Amador, president of the ACLU of Southern California

 “Whether marching for school integration in the 1970s, denouncing police mistreatment of community members of color in the 1990s, or training immigrant youth and immigrant workers on nonviolent direct action in the 2000s, Rev. Lawson led generations of Californians as a beacon of nonviolent action and thought. His call to nonviolence as a force more powerful to achieve change and his vision for a world in which race and class do not determine how much care people deserve is as resonant today as it was sixty years ago. The ACLU honors his enduring legacy that reverberates in our movement towards justice.”