The Rev. James Lawson, an internationally acclaimed civil rights leader and religious scholar, will join a panel of civil rights pioneers to discuss local media coverage of the early civil rights movement in Nashville.
NAACP Nashville and the First Amendment Center are co-sponsoring the event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the sit-ins demonstrations that led to desegregation of lunch counters in May 1960.
The public program begins at 3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12 at the John Seigenthaler Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University, 1207 18th Ave. S. Admission is free, but to ensure seating in the Lecture Hall call 727-1333.
Lawson, 77, is well known in the civil rights community as a deputy and advisor to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., He was at the forefront of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and has remained at the forefront of the 21st-century struggle for civil liberties and human rights.
He is a spiritual leader in advocacy for equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, insisting that their struggle for equality under the law is part of the continuing quest for human rights and human dignity for all people.
Other panelists joining Lawson include John Seigenthaler, former chairman, publisher and editor of The Tennessean, and founder of the First Amendment Center and Dr. Rip Patton, a Nashville educator who participated in the Nashville lunch-counter sit-ins and in 1961 was one of the Freedom Riders, whose nonviolent protest helped desegregate interstate travel and accommodations.
After the panel discussion, attendees will be invited to remain in the Lecture Hall to view the Nashville-focused segment of the documentary, “A Force More Powerful,” an award-winning film about the roots and worldwide impact of nonviolent protest and resistance to oppression.
“The news media helped shape our country’s views on the civil rights movement, and this event provides an opportunity for all of us to reflect on what we learned,” said Marilyn Robinson, Nashville NAACP president. “We hope everyone comes out to this event to continue the conversation.”