James Farmer

civil rights leader
Born: 1920
Birthplace: Marshall, Tex.

The son of a preacher, Farmer attended Howard University's School of Divinity. In 1942 he founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a civil rights organization that was the first in the United States to use nonviolent tactics to protest racial discrimination. In 1961, under the leadership of Farmer, the group organized "Freedom Rides" throughout the South. Volunteers traveled on interstate buses, with the blacks using the restaurants, restrooms, and waiting areas reserved for whites, and the whites using colored facilities. Attacked by mobs on several occasions, the Freedom Riders challenged the federal government to enforce the anti-segregation legislation that had recently been passed. Farmer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1998.

Died: 1999

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