James Farmer

Farmer.jpg (18274 bytes)Dr. James L. Farmer spent his entire lifetime as an activist for civil rights and social reform. He is the founder and former National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which challenged America to live up to the ideals that it proclaimed in its Declaration of Independence. In January of 1998, he was recognized by President William Jefferson Clinton and presented America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Dr. Farmer was one of the "Big Four" of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. He orchestrated America’s first sit-in, and fought for racial freedom along with activists Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Roy Wilkins of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Whitney Young of the National Urban League. As the National Director of CORE, Dr. Farmer headed the 1961 Freedom Rides through the South to test the compliance of bus stations with the Interstate Commerce Commission’s Desegregation order.

Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Farmer remained focused on his constant pursuit of equal rights, as he represented African-Americans in numerous capacities. He served as the Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Health Education & Welfare (HEW) in the Administration of President, Richard Milhous Nixon, and lectured extensively throughout the United States and abroad.

Now retired, Dr. Farmer served as Distinguished Professor of History at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he taught civil rights history. Most recently, Mary Washington College honored Dr. Farmer by renaming the college’s Multicultural Center as the James L. Farmer Multicultural Center.

Dr. Farmer is the author of Freedom, When? and Lay Bare the Heart, and is currently writing a third book entitled, An Old Warrior Speaks of Race and Nation. In 1941, he earn the degree Bachelor of Divinity at Howard University. In 1938, he earned the degree Bachelor of Science from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.

Dr. Farmer was born on January 12, 1920, and is a native of Marshall, Texas. He married Lula Peterson, and is the proud father of Tami and Abbey.