James M. Lawson Jr., Michael K. Honey, and Kent Wong

Dec 24, 2023

Revolutionary Nonviolence

Organizing for Freedom

University of California Press 2022

A persuasive account of the philosophy and power of nonviolence organizing, and a resource for building and sustaining effective social movements.

Despite the rich history of nonviolent philosophy, many people today are unfamiliar with the basic principles and practices of nonviolence––even as these concepts have guided so many direct-action movements to overturn forms of racial apartheid, military and police violence, and dictatorships around the world. Revolutionary Nonviolence: Organizing for Freedom (U California Press, 2022) is a crucial resource on the long history of nonviolent philosophy through the teachings of Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., one of the great practitioners of revolution through deliberate and sustained nonviolence. His ongoing work demonstrates how we can overcome violence and oppression through organized direct action, presenting a powerful roadmap for a new generation of activists.

Rev. Lawson’s work as a theologian, pastor, and social-change activist has inspired hope and liberation for more than sixty years. To hear and see him speak is to experience the power of the prophetic tradition in the African American and social gospel. In Revolutionary Nonviolence, Michael K. Honey and Kent Wong reflect on Rev. Lawson's talks and dialogues, from his speeches at the Nashville sit-in movement in 1960 to his lectures in the current UCLA curriculum. This volume provides a comprehensive introduction to Rev. Lawson's teachings on how to center nonviolence in successfully organizing for change.

James M. Lawson Jr. is a Methodist minister who taught nonviolent theory and practice to help launch the 1960s Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the Memphis sanitation strike, and worker and immigrant rights movements in Los Angeles. He continues to energize leaders and activists and inspire social change movements in the United States today.

Michael K. Honey is Haley Professor of Humanities at the University of Washington Tacoma. He is the author of five award-winning books on labor, the freedom movement, and Martin Luther King; the editor of King’s labor speeches; the past president of the Labor and Working-Class History Association; and a former civil liberties and community organizer in the South.

Kent Wong is director of the UCLA Labor Center, a union attorney, and a labor activist. He has taught a course on nonviolence with Rev. James Lawson Jr. for the past twenty years and has published books on the labor movement, immigrant rights, and the Asian American community.

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