Interview with Rev. James Lawson
QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT WERE THE WORKSHOPS LIKE THAT YOU CONDUCTED? HOW DID YOU WORK THAT PROCESS OUT AND GET PEOPLE READY TO TAKE PART IN--

Rev. James Lawson:

Well, the first series in Nashville, well, it wasn't the first series actually, 'cause we did our first workshop on nonviolence that was single shop as early as ‘57, ‘58. But this series was a sort of protracted series and we met weekly for much of September, October, November. And in that we tried to give people a very, a fairly, good view of nonviolence and we mixed that with role playing of various kinds, and we mixed it with experiments they were to play, to carry out in their own personal lives. And then we also added to it the first series of forages into downtown to test which restaurants we would decide to work on and so, as I recall in November, everyone who attended the workshop was given the experience of going to an actual restaurant and sitting in. These were in very small groups and not large groups, no more than usually four people and they were not supposed to be arrested, they were supposed to sit, ask for service. If it did not come, which of course it didn't in any case, and then talk with customers around them and talk with the waiter or waitresses, see what their attitudes were and then ask to see the manager or somebody in authority and talk with them about the policy of the place. So it was that kind of experimentation, so they got both a feel for what it felt like and then also learned what the situation was for that particular restaurant. That was a part of our planning. So the workshops, role playing was often realistic. That is that we would set up confrontations in workshops where a person might get slapped or hit or knocked down and we would experiment, you know, we would help the person walk through how do you respond to this kind of hostile situation. So the role playing was a part of it.