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James Farmer


Portrait of James FarmerJames L. Farmer, Jr. was one of the foremost leaders of the American civil rights movement. He was a founder of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), the organizer of the 1961 Freedom Rides, and a steadfast advocate for the principle of nonviolent resistance. Farmer taught in the History and American Studies Department at Mary Washington College between 1984 and 1998. In Farmer’s final year at Mary Washington, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Farmer passed away in 1999 at the age of 79. The University of Mary Washington honors Farmer’s legacy with the James Farmer Multicultural Center and the James Farmer Scholars Program. In April 2001, the University erected a bust of Farmer on Campus Walk.

In 2020, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Farmer's birth, UMW launched Farmer Legacy 2020, a university-wide commemoration and call to action.

This LibGuide is designed to help you find information about James Farmer's life and work. Simpson Library encourages everyone to use the resources listed here to learn about James Farmer’s outstanding life and achievements.

Photograph of James Farmer courtesy of the UMW Digital Collections. © University of Mary Washington.

How to get help

If you would like assistance with finding information about James Farmer, contact a UMW librarian:

Simpson Library
540-654-1148 (Reference Desk)
540-654-2045 (Special Collections and University Archives)
Text questions to 855-266-4542 (855-266-4LIB)