The inaugural Payton Distinguished Lectureship will feature an in-depth conversation with Myrlie Evers-Williams ’68 and the Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr. moderated by Lorn Foster, Charles and Henrietta Johnson Detoy Professor of American Government and Professor of Politics. A community reception will follow.
Myrlie Evers-Williams is a civil rights activist whose early work focused on registering Black voters and ending racial segregation in schools and public facilities in Mississippi. In 1987, she was appointed to the Los Angeles Board of Public Works as a commissioner, the first Black woman to serve in this capacity. She was a board member of the NAACP and served as its chair from 1995-1998. She was awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 1998 and in 2009 received the National Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. She has received seven honorary doctorates. Evers-Williams has published several books on topics related to civil rights and her activist husband Medgar Evers’ legacy, and in 1998 founded the Medgar Evers Institute (now named the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute) in Jackson, Mississippi. Medgar Evers was assassinated in 1963. The following summer Evers-Williams came to Claremont to attend Pomona College.
The Reverend James Lawson, Jr. was a leading tactician in the Civil Rights Movement and chief organizer of the movement's nonviolent resistance to racism. Inspired by his experiences as a Methodist missionary to Nagpur, India, Lawson studied Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence. While a theology student at Oberlin College in Ohio, Lawson was introduced to Martin Luther King, Jr., who urged him to come to the South. Later he served as the southern director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and conducted nonviolence training workshops for members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He has continued to train activists in nonviolence and has worked for numerous human rights causes, including immigrants’ rights and workers’ rights to a living wage. In 2004, he received the Community of Christ International Peace Award.
Lorn Foster is the Charles and Henrietta Johnson Detoy Professor of American Government and professor of politics at Pomona College. His research examines issues of race, community and power. His current project is “Black Immigration to Los Angeles, 1900-1950 and The Role of the African American Church in Social Mobility,” a study of eight African American churches during the first half of the 20th century and how they shaped both the sacred and secular lives of African Americans in the community. In 2008, Foster received the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation Faculty Fellowship for his project titled “Black Political Development in LA, 1910-1950: The Role of the Black Church.”
The Pomona College Board of Trustees endowed the John A. Payton ’73 Distinguished Lectureship in memory of John Payton's life and influential career as a renowned civil rights attorney, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and a member of the Pomona College Board of Trustees, and in honor of David W. Oxtoby, ninth president of Pomona College. This is the first Payton Lecture.
- Pomona College
- Bridges Auditorium
- 450 N. College Way
Tickets are available online and at the Bridges Auditorium box office.