Wendy Gladney (Courtesy Photo)

My professional career started over three decades ago in the field of event management and community relations.  One of the clients I had the privilege of working with was the historical Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles (SCLC-LA).   

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is a civil rights organization originally founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Bayard Rustin, and Fred Shuttlesworth.  One of SCLC’s goals was to help with, “Redeeming the Soul of America.”  

The SCLC chapter in Los Angeles was very strong and had deep ties in the community.  One of the leaders involved in SCLC was Reverend James Lawson. 

One day, I was in the SCLC-LA offices as I was preparing for a meeting to kick off King Week in the city of Los Angeles.  During the meeting, a gentleman walked in who I did not know at the time and he was talking to various people, interrupting my meeting with the various members present.  I asked this gentleman politely if he could please refrain from talking and to please take a seat.   

Everyone in the room turned in amazement and started looking at me because that gentleman was Rev. Lawson.  He just looked at me and then took a seat.  Afterwards, when I learned who he was, I went up to him to apologize and that I did not mean to overstep.   

He stopped and looked at me straight in my eyes and said, “I would never be upset for someone trying to do their job and do it well.”  I never forgot that day and to me he became a giant among men, but gentle as a servant of God.  

Over the years, I got to know Rev. Lawson much better. For a period, he was the pastor of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles and as an event planner, I had clients who held various community events at Holman, and we would run into each other.  It was also the location for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast with the National Council of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) that I organized for several years.  

Once we became acquainted, it seemed like we would run into each other across the city at various functions and he would just nod at me and I would just smile.  He could have broken my spirit the first day we met, yet he chose to encourage me in my journey and that has stayed with me even to this day.

Rev. Lawson was a man of many talents.  He not only was an advocate for nonviolence, but he was also an author, speaker and pastor.  He was sought out by many as a lecturer regarding the civil rights movement, but what really speaks to me and will have a lasting effect on me personally was his commitment to the teachings of Gandhi and peacefully making a difference in the world.   

Rev. Lawson walked among many giants such as the Honorable John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Little Rock Nine to name a few, but he always seemed to maintain a spirit of humility.  He may have come from the South, but he eventually made Los Angeles his home.   

I am truly grateful because it gave me the chance to meet and walk with someone who stood up to help not only me but so many others to have a better life. Thank you, Rev. Lawson, for heeding the call given to you by God to sow into mankind and help make the world a better place.  Your legacy will live on, and your works are appreciated. 

Rev. Lawson once said, “The politics of Jesus and the politics of God are that people should be fed, that people should have access to life, that people should be treated equally and justly.”  

Sounds like good advice still today.  What will be your calling card in life as to the difference you were able to make to help make the world a better place? 


Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on. 


Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is a life strategist, coach, consultant, author, and speaker.