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Transcript of James Farmer
"CORE under Mr. Farmer often served as the razor's edge of the movement. It was to CORE that the four Greensboro, N.C., students turned after staging the first in the series of sit-ins that swept the South in 1960.
It was CORE that forced the issue of desegregation in interstate transportation with the Freedom Rides of 1961.
It was CORE's James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner -- a black and two whites -- who became the first fatalities of the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964." (The three were murdered by a gang of Klansmen while investigating a burning church and promoting black voter registration). * * Petersburg, VA * Rock Hill, SC * Atlanta, GA * Anniston, AL * Montgomery, AL * Plaquemine, LA * New York, NY * Washington, DC. The Freedom Rides The freedom rides, beginning in 1961, were aimed at desegregating public transportation throughout the South. In 1961, CORE, with James Farmer as its leader, played the important role of organizing these rides. Consisting of both black and white men and women, the rides would travel by interstate buses through the Deep South and challenge the outdated Jim Crow laws of these regions. The freedom riders boarded the buses with the goal to have at least one interracial pair sit together, at least one group of blacks sitting in the front of the bus, and at least one group of whites sitting in the back of the bus (segregated buses always had whites in the front and blacks in the back). At stops along the way, whites and blacks entered "white" and "colored" areas opposite of their actual race, and sat together at segregated lunch counters. With a U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Boynton v. Virginia) that already declared segregation in all interstate public transportation facilities unconstitutional not being followed, the freedom rides were meant to test this while improving the effort for equality non-violently. On May 4th, 1961, the first group of Freedom Riders, led by James Farmer, left Washington, DC. on Greyhound and Trailways buses to begin their journey. ----------------- This was the very first stop of the freedom rides. -------- ----------- ------------- ----------- -------- ---------- Up until this point, the freedom riders had only encountered minor troubles. Rock Hill is where they received their first major run-in with white supremacist attitudes. --------------------- --------------------- ------------- Anniston, Alabama was another stop during the freedom rides. It was here that the riders encountered a very hostile mob, made up of local citizens and policemen. The mob slashed the tires of the bus and lit it on fire, almost killing the members by holding the doors shut. Images of the bus that was lit on fire. * Jackson, MS ---------------------------------- For most, Jackson, Mississippi was the conclusion of the freedom rides. Here, the Jackson police arrest many, including James Farmer, for the violation of "breach of peace." Mugshots of freedom riders arrested in Jackson, MS. Mugshot of James Farmer after being arrested as part of the freedom rides in Jackson, MS. James Farmer held an extremely powerful voice for nonviolence and against black nationalism and separation. As a speaker, James Farmer was extremely talented in delivering his views to the public. He was a very skilled debater, and
became one of the only people to ever
publicly debate Malcolm X. This video shows
part of this debate, in which Malcolm argues
separation, while Farmer argues integration. This debate took place at Cornell University in New York. (June 12, 1963) March on Washington James Farmer had been prepared to read a speech during the famous March on Washington event (which was co-sponsored by CORE), but unfortunately could not attend due to being jailed in Plaquemine for his involvement in protests. Floyd McKissick, CORE member, had to read his speech for him. Part of which read:
"We will not stop until the dogs stop biting us in the South, and the rats stop biting us in the North."
This quote further illustrated Farmer's motivation and determination. (This audio clip is of James Farmer telling of his reaction as he watched the March on Washington from a small TV set while in jail) “If I kicked the bucket tomorrow, I would like it to be known that I founded the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942, organized the freedom rides in 1961, and attempted to bring Gandhian techniques of nonviolence to the struggle for racial equality in this country.”
-James Farmer As he says it himself, the formation of CORE, organization of the freedom rides, and philosophy of non-violent direct action were Farmer's most important contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. CORE was an extremely significant organization, for it helped bring about change to the nation in a profound number of ways- the biggest being the freedom rides. As the architect of the freedom rides, Farmer helped plan an extraordinary movement that challenged unjust laws throughout the South. But throughout all of this, his views and demonstrations on nonviolence may have been the most crucial to the movement. Succumbed in violence around him, it would have been easy to give in. However, he, along with thousands of other activists, did not. In his ability to teach this to others, Farmer was a true leader. (This audio clip shows an instance in which James Farmer could have easily used violence, yet refused to) This document, written by
James Farmer, gives details
of the freedom rides to
President John. F. Kennedy. James Farmer became a great author as well as speaker. He published two books-
Freedom When in 1965, and his autobiography,
Lay Bare the Heart, in 1985. His autobiography told of his actions and others' actions during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1998, Farmer was awarded the Congressional Medal for Freedom by President Bill Clinton. “This is the highest civilian honor possible in this country and needless to say, I was honored and flattered. This is the cap of my career," James Farmer says upon receiving the award. July 9, 1999 James Farmer dies after a long battle with diabetes and an illness that claimed both his sight in one eye and the use of his legs. However, he did not leave with an empty legacy. His dreams of and actions toward racial equality have inspired both blacks and whites up to this day. James Farmer was an instumental member of the Civil Rights Movement. With his methods of non-violence, attitude toward change, tremendous speaking abilities (shown in the photograph to the left), monumental leadership, and outspoken bravery, he helped to shape the United States in positive ways. James Farmer has truly left his powerful impact on the Civil Rights Movement. Bibliography
"About James Farmer." Commemorating James Farmer. University of Mary Washington, n.d. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://jamesfarmer.umw.edu/about-james-farmer/>.
"About James Farmer." Freedom Rides 50th Anniversary Celebration RSS. University of Mary Washington, n.d. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://freedomrides.umw.edu/about-james-farmer/>.
"Civil Rights Giant James Farmer Dies / One of the `Big Four,' He Founded the Congress on Racial Equality." New York Times 10 July 1999: n. pag. SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Civil-Rights-Giant-James-Farmer-Dies-One-of-the-2921263.php>.
"James Farmer." CORE-Online. Congress of Racial Equality, 2011. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://www.core-online.org/History/james_farmer.htm>.
The James Farmer Lectures. N.p., n.d. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://jamesfarmerlectures.umwblogs.org/>.
"James Farmer." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/freedomriders/people/james-farmer>.
"James Farmer Project." James Farmer Project. Ed. Laura Gumkowski. N.p., 2008. Web. Mar. 2013.
"James L. Farmer Image Collection." University of Mary Washington’s Digital Archive. University of Mary Washington, n.d. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://archive.umw.edu/vital/access/manager/Collection/umw%3A1012>.
"Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement." Goodreads. Goodreads, 2013. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2146691.Lay_Bare_the_Heart>.
"Letter from James Farmer to President John F. Kennedy." The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute. Stanford University, n.d. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/letter_from_james_farmer_to_president_john_f_kennedy/>.
Lisker, David. "Freedom Riders - A Brief History." Freedom Riders - A Brief History. 1961 Freedom Riders' 40th Reunion, 2001. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://www.freedomridersfoundation.org/id16.html>.
McMillan, Peter. "James Farmer." Spartacus Educational. N.p., n.d. Web. Mar. 2013. <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAfarmerJ.htm>.