International civil rights leader, the Rev. James Lawson, Jr., is scheduled to lead a community forum and workshop on anti-racism at the Church in Ocean Park in Santa Monica Sunday, Aug. 14.

The event, organized in response to an alleged racial harassment incident involving Santa Monica High School wrestlers, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica. James Williams III, conciliation specialist for the United States Department of Justice, will facilitate the forum.

Earlier this year, according to police, an African-American boy on the Samohi wrestling team was reportedly chained to a locker through his belt and teammates allegedly made racial comments. The boy then reportedly saw a brown wrestling dummy with a noose around the neck area in the practice room, according to police reports. The incident has been decried by local civil rights activists, school officials and community members.

“We have a tradition of helping to create a more just community,” said the Rev. Janet McKeithen of the Church in Ocean Park.

“This incident surfaced deep underlying pain and struggle in this community. “What happened is ugly and complex and people would rather not look at it. But as a community, we need to take care of each other.”

Lawson, the director of nonviolent education for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was president, will be the featured guest speaker. As one who talked and walked with King, Lawson has been acclaimed as a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence.

Lawson is pastor-emeritus of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, where he served for 25 years. His address at the Santa Monica church will be followed by workshops on anti-racism and constructive action to foster a community of respect and goodwill.

Information, (310) 399-1631.

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