James Farmer

Image from UMW Digital Archives: The James Farmer Collection.

One of the most eloquent speakers in history, James Farmer used his voice and actions to inspire nonviolence and integration. As one of the Big Four leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, Farmer led and founded the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE), which followed Gandhian techniques of direct action with nonviolence. As CORE’s national director, he organized the Freedom Rides to enforce the desegregation of interstate transportation. The success of the Freedom Rides solidified Farmer as a major leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Despite death threats, Farmer continued leading marches, participating in direct action protests, and making speeches for desegregation.

Beginning in the 1980s, Farmer taught civil rights history at Mary Washington College (now University of Mary Washington). This digital archive holds thirteen of Farmer’s reflection lectures, given when he was Commonwealth Professor of History in 1983. Unfortunately, the archive only holds lectures five through thirteen in video format. However, the archive has all the lectures in audio format with accompanying transcriptions. Under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey McClurken in the University of Mary Washington Adventures in Digital History 2012 seminar Laura Donahue, Michelle Martz, Kelsey Matthews, and Caitlin Murphy constructed this digital archive for the James Farmer Lectures.

The lectures were filmed by a local news channel WNVT-TV Channel 53. As of today, WNVT-TV is dissolved and belongs to a larger media conglomerate based out of Washington DC. WNVT-TV has signed over the copyright to the University of Mary Washington. These are the lectures that we edited, uploaded, transcribed, and summarized for this digital archive website.