present James Farmer as the Martin Luther King, Jr.
birthday speaker. Founding director of the Congress of
Racial Equality (CORE), Farmer is the only surviving
member of the "Big Four" civil rights leaders of the
1960s. He was a participant and organizer of many
freedom rides, one of which resulted in a 40-day
incarceration. A firm believer in Gandhi's policy of
nonviolence. Dr. Farmer has often been entangled in
violence. He escaped a lynch mob and an assassin, and
he survived a death warrant issued by the Ku Klux
Klan. He personally investigated the 1964 murders of the three CORE volunteers in Mississippi; the story of
those murders is the basis for Mississippi Burning (1988).
Dr. Farmer's devotion to the civil rights movement is
unending. Anytime Americans thought that the nation
had solved its race problem in the 1950s or 1960s. Dr.
Farmer says, "we woke up to the fact that we were
suffering from an illusion . . . the problem remains."
According to Dr. Farmer, the black movement now
faces a lack of centralization. Illiteracy, joblessness, drug
abuse, teen pregnancy, and inadequate housing are
among the issues that Dr. Farmer believes need to be
addressed. Affirmative action is one solution that Dr.
Farmer believes can work.
Dr. Farmer is a professor of history at Mary
Washington College in Virginia. His experiences in the
civil rights movement are recorded in his autobiography, Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement (1985). He is currently working
on a book about where the movement will go next.
The lecture begins at 7:00, following a 5:30 reception
and 6:00 dinner. Please return the enclosed meal
reservation, if you wish to attend.