|Rev. James Lawson|
James Lawson, is internationally known as a “Freedom Rider” who introduced the principles of Gandhian nonviolence to many future leaders of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement.
Before meeting Dr. King, he spent a year in prison as a conscientious objector during the Korean War as well as a Methodist missionary in India where he was deeply influenced by the philosophy and techniques of nonviolent resistance developed by Mohandas Gandhi and his followers. When the original CORE Freedom Ride stalled in Birmingham, AL, Lawson urged the Nashville Student Movement to continue the Freedom Rides. As featured in the movie “The Butler” Reverend Lawson conducted workshops on nonviolent resistance. During an impromptu press conference on the National Guard-escorted bus that traveled from Montgomery to Jackson, MS, he told reporters that the Freedom Riders "would rather risk violence and be able to travel like ordinary passengers" than rely on armed guards who did not understand their philosophy combating "violence and hate" by "absorbing it without returning it in kind."
The annual event’s purpose is to recognize the contributions of individuals and organizations that continue to improve the urban core in Allentown raise awareness of various issues impacting quality of life in the City and to highlight the work and raise funds for the Resurrected Community Development Corporation (RCDC). The RCDC is the only faith-based, non-profit community development organization in the Lehigh Valley specifically dedicated to the deliverance of disadvantaged urban neighborhoods from decades of discrimination, deprivation and disrepair and is located within the Old Allentown neighborhoods just outside the newly created Neighborhood Improvement Zone.