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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James Lawson, October 24, 1983. Interview F-0029. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Lawson's experiences at Vanderbilt

Though Lawson was expelled from Vanderbilt because of his involvement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and his participation in the sit-ins, he remembers that several of the faculty members offered him a great amount of personal support. He also reconciled with some of his opponents later in life.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James Lawson, October 24, 1983. Interview F-0029. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about the faculty at Vanderbilt? Who gave you the greatest support there?
JAMES A. LAWSON:
I suppose that's fairly hard to say. I would say though it would probably have been a combination of Everett Tillson and J. Robert Nelson.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES A. LAWSON:
Yeah. I would think I would say, yes, in fact I would definitely, just simply definitely say it was those, those two would be the, the main two. I had ... J. Robert Nelson was someone that I admired, was or is a good man, rather, and a strong man. So I admired him. That was really the first time I'd gotten close to him though as a dean and I didn't know him and he knew who I was, so we had visited before my, before 1960. Everett, I met through his Old Testament class, which for me was a very exciting affair with specially his work with the prophetic tradition and his interpretation and all. So I guess that's where I really, in a sense, fell in love with his class, and we talked and visited. He was also Will's friend, so that helped. So I would say those two were my most supportive people from the faculty.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES A. LAWSON:
From the faculty.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did, was there anyone that surprised you with a lack of support?
JAMES A. LAWSON:
I should also say I guess that Roger Shinn was my counselor there, my faculty counselor, and he was quite helpful and supportive at the times I had conferences with him. Bard Thompson and I became very close because I was very excited by his teaching.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES A. LAWSON:
Also, and I think he had a very firm trust in me although we didn't even know each other that well. I had never less than very firm trust in him, I know. I guess the person that surprised me though in some ways, we did get reconciled in 1970 and he surprised me, not because I knew him, but because of his Old Testament reputation up to that time. I had him that was Hyatt, who I understood from a variety of people, was quite negative about my whole role. As I say, we got reconciled because I went back on sabbatical in '70, 71', took his Jerimiah course and he was both impressed with my ability and I was in turn impressed by his knowledge of the prophetic movement and the way which he treated Jerimiah, so we did get reconciled. But I suppose that was the one, but it wasn't because he knew me or I knew him. It was more because I just assumed the person--did the prophetic tradition would have more of an understanding of the, what happened with Christian witness.