Global law firm K&L Gates LLP congratulates civil rights pioneer Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr., on being named the recipient of this year’s NAACP Chairman’s Award, to be presented during the 52nd NAACP Image Awards taking place later this month. K&L Gates was honored to have Rev. Lawson recently serve as the latest guest in the firm’s Conversation About Race speaker series focusing on the historical subjugation of Black people and the lingering effects of systemic racism in our society.
In their press release announcing Rev. Lawson as the recipient of the award, the NAACP stated: “As a prominent civil rights leader, revered teacher and mentor, Rev. James Lawson is one of the most impactful social justice leaders of the twentieth-century. Rev. Lawson will be honored with the Chairman’s Award in recognition of his work as a social change advocate and his critical contributions to the civil rights movement, specifically the integral role in the nonviolent protests of the south in the 1960s.”
Once hailed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world,” Lawson talked with K&L Gates partners and allied professionals in February as part of the firm’s Conversation About Race speaker series. During the session, Rev. Lawson spoke regarding segregation and discrimination, recalling his role in lunch counter sit-ins, Freedom Rides, the Meredith March, and the sanitation workers strike of 1968. He was the sixth speaker in the series, following discussions with Derrick Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Dr. Harry Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund; the Honorable Bernice B. Donald of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley; and Dean Kevin R. Johnson of UC Davis Law School.
The NAACP Chairman’s Award is bestowed in recognition of individuals who demonstrate exemplary public service and use their distinct platforms to create agents of change, with past honorees of the award having included Tyler Perry, then-Senator Barack Obama, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Ruby Dee, The Neville Brothers, Bono, Danny Glover, and the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis.