UCLA Labor Center building to be renamed for civil rights icon Rev. James Lawson Jr


James Lawson UCLA Medal speech

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

Rev. James Lawson Jr.

It’s been big news for the UCLA Labor Center. The historic building that houses the UCLA Labor Center will be named in honor the Rev. James Lawson Jr., a a civil rights and workers’ rights leader who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr., and the 2021-22 California budget includes $15 million to renovate the building that overlooks MacArthur Park.

UCLA has leased this building since 2002 and purchased the building in November 2020. This one-time allocation will fund necessary renovations for the building and establish a permanent home for the center, which has provided a base for low-wage worker research, innovative labor projects, and community-engaged learning and leadership development for hundreds of UCLA students.

Lawson has taught a labor studies course on nonviolence at UCLA for the past twenty years. In 2018, Lawson received the UCLA Medal, the campus’s highest honor.

The UCLA Labor Center was established in 1964 as the Center for Labor Research and Education within the UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations, now the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, through a statewide joint labor-university committee. Since its inception, the center has been dedicated to research, education, and service in the interest of California’s workers.

“We wanted to bridge the gap between the university and the labor movement, worker centers, and community-based social justice organizations,” said Kent Wong, director at the UCLA Labor Center. “We’re located in the most immigrant-dense zip code in the country and in direct proximity to the communities served by our research and programs.”

Read the full news release about the funding for the labor center on the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment website.

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