Interview with Rev. James Lawson
QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

THEN WHY DID THAT GET CRYSTALLIZED IN THE MOVEMENT IN 1960 OR AT LEAST IT HAD IN [SIC] BOYCOTT, IT HAD EXISTED IN MONTGOMERY FOR A COUPLE [unintelligible] IN THE SOUTH. WHY? WHY?

Rev. James Lawson:

Yeah. Well, because by that time, it had begun to be organized. That's why it happened in ‘60, because by that time Martin King had come into the focus. He was articulating this restlessness, and articulating the need to aggressively attack and aggressively organize against it. So, by the time 1960 came around, you know, and the national sit-in, you know, there were sizeable numbers of people who now began to see that, you know, see that they could make changes, and were willing to try to experiment with how to do that. So, as an example in specifically the Nashville scene, when in Nashville in early 1959 we decided that we needed to begin a movement on downtown Nashville to desegregate downtown Nashville, that was our intention. That was done primarily by the National [sic] Christian Leadership Conference, which was primarily adult-oriented. But as we shaped that decision through study and workshop and conversation together, and then actual decisions that downtown Nashville must be desegregated, and that's our next step. So we'd planned then across the summer a series of workshops on nonviolence to begin to start that process and to that work, to those workshops rather, on nonviolence in the fall came people like John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, who was a member of the Nashville group, Jim Bevel, Diane Nash, Bernard Lafayette, and a number of other students. So we had adults in the community; we had students from Tennessee State from American Baptist Theological School and from Fisk University.