Civil Rights Group Soulforce Applauds Rev. James Lawson’s Return to Vanderbilt University

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The LGBT civil rights organization Soulforce expresses support for Rev. James Lawson's appointment as a Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt University. Lawson was expelled from Vanderbilt in 1960 for his role in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins.

In response to the news that Rev. James M. Lawson has been appointed as a Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt University, Soulforce board chair Chuck Phelan expressed his organization's support: "We are thrilled to see that Rev. James Lawson has been welcomed back to Vanderbilt 46 years after the university expelled him for his role in the lunch counter sit-ins."

As a divinity student at Vanderbilt, Mr. Lawson led workshops on nonviolence and played a pivotal role in the campaign to de-segregate Nashville's lunch counters. Lawson was expelled for his activism in 1960, but he remained a leader in civil rights movements.

According to Phelan, in recent years Lawson has been a "loyal supporter" of Soulforce and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. James Lawson's brother, Rev. Phil Lawson, currently serves on the Soulforce board of directors.

Says Phelan, "we look forward to a future day when our society fully welcomes LGBT people in the same way Vanderbilt is welcoming James Lawson."

Soulforce's goal is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through sustained nonviolent resistance.

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Paige Schilt
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