The James Lawson Institute
An Eight-Day Experience in Strategic Evaluation of Nonviolent Civil Resistance
August 16-23, 2014 | Nashville, Tennessee
In the 1960s, the Reverend James Lawson organized and led one of the most effective campaigns of nonviolent civil resistance in the 20th century: the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins for the US Civil Rights Movement. In the years that followed he was involved in strategic planning of numerous other major campaigns and actions and was called “the mind of the movement” and “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The US Civil Rights movement, the US Labor movement in the 1930s, the women’s suffrage movement, the anti-nuclear movement, and other movements in North America and abroad in the decades since did not just engage in activism. They organized people, mobilized them by the millions, and galvanized participation from a broad cross section of society. Collectively, these movements provide a model for how nonviolent change can be organized to win rights, justice and change in very adverse conditions.
The James Lawson Institute (JLI) looks at these past movements, and numerous contemporary ones around the world, from a strategic perspective, and engages participants in depth about a wide variety of aspects of organizing and activism in North America. It is a structured seminar to discuss what kinds of strategies, tactics and practices are effective for people organizing movements and waging civil resistance campaigns.
Topics to be discussed include:
- The Current State of North American Organizing and Activism
- The Core Dynamics of Nonviolent Civil Resistance
- Movement Formation, Sustainability, and Coalition Building
- Strategy, Tactics, and Planning
- Movement Language and Media
- Managing Repression, Radical Flanks, and Maintaining Nonviolent Discipline
The content is a mixture of theory and practice and is based on the experiences of numerous activists and organizers around the world as well as leading scholarship in the field of social movement and civil resistance. The daily schedule usually includes two presentations and two exercises, as well as an evening program. We will learn from case studies, theoretical frameworks, participant exercises, planning tools, academic research, and each other.
Sessions will be facilitated by James Lawson and the advisors and staff of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC).