The Johnson Institute is committed to affirming and exploring the relationship between scholarship and activism through its Social Advocacy Program. Capturing powerfully interrelated aspects of the life of James Weldon Johnson, the institute’s Social Advocacy Program is another resource for scholars and activists committed to social justice and reconciliation through nonviolent means.
Conceived of as an effort to combat racism, homophobia and sexism, the Social Advocacy Program sponsors workshops that provide its participants with the tools, vocabulary and skills to undertake their own social advocacy projects that are nonviolent and that lead to justice and reconciliation. Committed to providing accessible, applicable and innovative instruments of social change, the workshops are a means of providing instruction in two non-violent approaches to social change. One is nonviolent direct action, the method championed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. based upon his study of the methods of Mohandas K. Ghandi. This workshop is taught by practitioners trained in Dr. King’s method of civil disobedience. Free and open to the public, participants in these workshops are expected to make one public presentation in collaboration with a community-based organization or secondary school in Atlanta.
The Johnson Institute’s Social Advocacy Program is a means of engaging in innovative teaching while also honoring aspects of the progressive legacy of the modern civil rights movement. This dynamic coupling of research and activism makes the Johnson Institute distinctive among the nation’s research institutes.