A new scholarship fund has been established at Vanderbilt University to honor James M. Lawson Jr., a leading figure in the civil rights movement and an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The new scholarship was made possible by a gift from Doug Parker, an alumnus of the Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt, the CEO of American Airlines, and a new trustee of the university, and his wife Gwen.
The new scholarships will be given to students from underrepresented groups who have shown a commitment to civil rights and social justice.
Lawson, enrolled at the Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1958. While a student he helped organize sit-ins at lunch counters in downtown Nashville. In 1960, he was expelled from the university for his participation in civil rights protests.
Lawson completed his divinity studies at Boston University and then served as director of nonviolent education for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1974 to 1999, Rev. Lawson was the pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.
Lawson returned to Vanderbilt as a distinguished visiting professor form 2006 to 2009. An endowed chair at the Divinity School was named in his honor in 2007.
The University of California, Santa Barbara, has established a visiting professorship to honor Ella Baker, a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and its network of Freedom Schools. Baker was born in 1903, the granddaughter of slaves. She was the valedictorian of the Class of 1927 at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She joined the NAACP in 1940 as a field secretary and then served as director of branches. She later move the Atlanta to help organize Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Baker died in 1986.
The first holder of the Ella Baker Visiting Professorship is Shana Redmond, an associate professor of American and ethnic studies at the University of Southern California. While at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she will teach, lecture, conduct research, and produce a special edition of the BLST Review.
“Shana Redmond perfectly fits our expectations for the Ella Baker Visiting Professor,” said Jeffrey Stewart, professor and chair of Black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “She is very enthusiastic about working with undergraduates. Indeed, her personal embrace of the spirit of the Ella Baker Professorship and her sense of the larger possibilities of collaboration with students that the professorship embodies made her a clear choice for the position.”
Andrew Young (pictured throughout) has not been in public office since 1990, but his contributions as a politician to the Civil Rights Movement and his service as an elected official have catapulted him to legendary status. Even after a failed gubernatorial bid, Young has gone on to do amazing work as a private citizen. Today, NewsOne celebrates another milestone of Young as he reaches the rich age of 80 today.
Born in 1932 in New Orleans to parents Andrew Sr., a dentist, and Daisy Fuller, a schoolteacher, Young benefited from a middle-class upbringing that was rare for many African Americans during the Great Depression. By Young’s own admission, he didn’t take advantage of his good fortunes and nearly failed out of Howard University but eventually graduated in 1951. It was expected that Young would enter the dentistry field, but he went on to obtain a divinity degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut.