January 19, 2020

Chavis to Deliver Keynote Address for UMW’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

In 1961, Benjamin Chavis Jr., tired of reading tattered books, boldly marched into the whites-only library in Oxford, North Carolina. The young teen, already a NAACP member, was promptly asked to leave; instead, he stood his ground. “He asked why,” a friend recalled to The New York Times. “A lot of us when we were […]

Launch Party Ignites Farmer Legacy 2020 Celebration

A wreath on the James Farmer bust on UMW’s Campus Walk recognizes Farmer’s 100th birthday and UMW’s Farmer Legacy 2020 celebration. Photo by Tom Rothenberg.

A wreath on the James Farmer bust on UMW’s Campus Walk recognizes Farmer’s 100th birthday and UMW’s Farmer Legacy 2020 celebration. Photo by Tom Rothenberg.

Nearly 500 people turned out yesterday to help UMW kick off Farmer Legacy 2020, a yearlong celebration of Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., the day after what would have been his 100th birthday.

The hourlong launch party packed plenty of emotion, from student accounts of life-changing experiences they’ve gained through UMW – and learning about Farmer’s legacy – to a moving rendition of Happy Birthday by Mary Washington gospel ensemble Voices of Praise.

Held in the UMW University Center’s Chandler Ballroom, the celebration commenced a year of events paying tribute to Farmer, the late Mary Washington history professor who founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and made an immeasurable impact on the civil rights movement as a member of the Big Six. Fredericksburg residents, Board of Visitor members and colleagues in higher education joined UMW students, faculty and staff in recognizing Farmer and his contributions, and vowing to follow in his footsteps by dedicating themselves to civic action and inclusion.

Honorary celebration chair, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, the last surviving member of the Big Six, had to cancel plans to attend yesterday’s launch due to a recent cancer diagnosis. Attendees signed a card for him. Read more.

2020 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

2020 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
Demanding Truth, Demanding Justice

The profound words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ring louder than ever today as we fight for truth, justice, and the soul of our nation. Join the James Farmer Multicultural Center in celebrating Dr. King’s work and legacy.


MLK Jr. Kids Day

Sunday, Jan. 19 | 3 to 5 p.m.  |  James Monroe High School

Children from the Fredericksburg area are invited to enjoy games, activities, and crafts to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the community MLK celebration. The event is sponsored by the Fredericksburg-area Partnership for Academic Excellence.


I Am MLK, Jr. Documentary & Discussion
Tuesday, Jan. 21 | 6 p.m. | Colonnade Room 315, University Center
A stirring documentary examines Dr. King’s lifelong commitment to civil rights and the legacy that continues today.


The University of Mary Washington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Speaker: Rev. Dr. Benjamin Franklin Chavis Jr.
Wednesday, Jan. 22 • 7 p.m. • Chandler Ballroom, University Center
Sponsored by the Office of the President

Reverend Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., entrepreneur, global business leader, educator, chemist, civil rights leader, NAACP Life Member, syndicated columnist, theologian, and author is currently the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA): The Black Press of America. Dr. Chavis serves on the Board of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). Dr. Chavis is also the former President and Co-Founder of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), the world’s largest coalition of hip-hop artists and recording industry executives.

A native of Oxford, North Carolina, Dr. Chavis received the Bachelor of Arts, BA, in Chemistry from University of North Carolina. He even earned his Masters of Divinity, M.Div., magna cum laude, from Duke University while serving an unjust 34-year prison sentence as a member of the Wilmington 10, who Amnesty International declared political prisoners, a case that garnered international attention and was pardoned 40 years later. He also received the Doctor of Ministry, D. Min, from Howard University and completed course requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D., in systematic theology, from Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Chavis is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.

Dr. Chavis began his career in 1963, as a statewide youth coordinator in NC for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1993 and 1994, Dr. Chavis served as the Executive Director and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and remains an active supporter of the NAACP. In 1995, Dr. Chavis was the National Director and organizer of the Million Man March. From 1995 to 1997, Chavis was the Executive Director and CEO of the National African American Leadership Summit (NAALS). The 2010 theatrical release of the full-length movie Blood Done Sign My Name distributed by Paladin, directed by Jeb Stuart, starring Ricky Schroder, Nate Parker, and Lela Rochon depicts a true story from Dr. Chavis’ early days in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960’s and 1970’s in his hometown of Oxford, NC.

Dr Chavis has authored books and other publications including: An American Political Prisoner Appeals for Human Rights, Psalms from Prison, Toxic Waste and Race in the United States of America: A National Report on the Racial and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites, and FUSION: Bridging the Gap between Civil Rights and Hip-Hop with MC Lyte (2015). His areas of expertise include corporate diversity and inclusion, human rights, climate change, voting rights, bridging the gap between civil rights and hip-hop, and criminal justice reform.


Speaking Truth to Power
Thursday, Jan. 23 | 7 p.m. | Lee Hall Underground
Members of the UMW community honor Dr. King and other justice fighters through art, music, dance, and spoken word pieces.


MLK Jr. Day of Service

Saturday, January 25 | 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  |  Chandler Ballroom, University Center

The UMW MLK Day of Service provides students a way to give back to their community to honor the legacy of Dr. King and his commitment to strengthening communities. Many different service projects, which will be donated to various agencies in the Fredericksburg area, will be available for students to complete.  Afterwards, a discussion will take place regarding service, civic engagement, and inclusivity.

A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.  All members of the campus community are invited to participate.  Please register online at MyUMW.


All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more information, please contact the James Farmer Multicultural Center at 540/654-1044 or umwjfmc@gmail.com .

Spring Safe Zone Events

Safe Zone is excited to announce several upcoming programs, including our Spring Book Club. The UMW Safe Zone program offers programs that are designed to educate members of the University community about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+) issues to increase the safety and inclusion of all campus citizens. All of our programs are free and open to all faculty and staff.

  • We will be offering a Basic Safe Zone workshop on Thursday, January 23 from 3:30-6:00pm. This training focuses on terminology, issues related to privilege, increasing awareness and sensitivity, and how to support the LGBTQ+ population on campus. This is an opportunity for any faculty or staff member to become a Safe Zone ally. Space is limited and registration is required. All participants get cool Safe Zone swag!
  • We will be offering an Advanced Safe Zone workshop on Wednesday, January 29 from 3:00-5:30pm. The advanced training is for faculty and staff who have already completed the basic training and covers more complex topics, including bystander intervention. Space is limited and registration is required. All participants get cool Safe Zone swag!
  • Safe Zone is partnering with the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board to provide a new training opportunity. Did you know that 66% of UMW students report experiencing at least one adverse childhood experience, such as abuse, family dysfunction or bullying? Research has shown that these types of experiences are associated with negative physical and mental health outcomes later in life. Join us for a workshop on how these types of negative childhood experiences affect our students. This training will be held on Wednesday, February 12 from 3:30-5:30pm, and is open to all faculty and staff. Refreshments will be provided. Space is limited and registration is required.
  • We will be offering our Spring Book Club as a two-part program on Wednesday, February 19 from 5:00pm-6:30pm and Wednesday, February 26 from 5:00pm-6:30pm. We will be reading “A Cup of Water Under My Bed” by Daisy Hernandez. The first 13 people to register get a free book! Plus, all participants get cool Safe Zone swag. Space is limited and registration is required.

If you would like to register for any of these events, please email Laura Wilson at lwilson5@umw.edu. If you would like more information about Safe Zone, to see the list of allies on our campus or access LGBTQ+ inclusion resources, please visit the website at bit.ly/UMWsafezone.

Marion Sanford: Following in Farmer’s Footsteps

Since 2010, Marion Sanford has been the director of the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Photo by Matthew Binamira Sanders.

Since 2010, Marion Sanford has been the director of the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Photo by Matthew Binamira Sanders.

The most treasured object in Marion Sanford’s office is Raymond Arsenault’s book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. It’s a riveting account of the quest to desegregate interstate transportation led by Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington professor who died in 1999.

Sanford never met the namesake of the James Farmer Multicultural Center, where she’s been director since 2010. But in this book, she has collected autographs from seven of the Freedom Riders – five of whom were among the original 13 men and women who left Washington, D.C. and put their lives on the line to fight injustice.

“When I think of their bravery and sacrifice, it inspires me to keep working for freedom, justice and equality,” said Sanford, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University in Mississippi and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Iowa State University.

On Monday, Jan. 13, UMW kicks off Farmer Legacy 2020, a yearlong celebration honoring the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington professor, who died in 1999 and whose 100th birthday would have been Jan. 12, 2020.

On Monday, Jan. 13, UMW kicks off Farmer Legacy 2020, a yearlong celebration honoring the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington professor, who died in 1999 and whose 100th birthday would have been Jan. 12, 2020.

A new signature was added when Sanford was among the UMW delegation that recently met with Congressman John Lewis. A civil rights icon in his own right, Lewis will serve as honorary chair for Farmer Legacy 2020, a yearlong celebration launching on Jan. 13, the day after what would have been Farmer’s 100th birthday.

Lewis has the same “energy, passion and determination” as when he boarded the bus as a college student nearly 60 years ago, Sanford said. She’ll never forget, she said, watching him interact with Student Government Association president Jason Ford, who was among the UMW group that traced the journey of the Freedom Rides last fall.

“It was the passing of a torch,” said Sanford. “Lewis is the past and present of the civil rights movement – and he looked at Jason like he was the future.”

 

 

 

Rep. John Lewis speaks with UMW Student Government Association president Jason Ford about Lewis' participation in the Freedom Rides and the march from Selma to Montgomery. Twice, through UMW’s Fall Break Social Justice Trips in 2018 and 2019, Ford has taken in sites visited by Farmer and Lewis during the height of the civil rights movement. Photo provided by the James Farmer Multicultural Center.

Rep. John Lewis speaks with UMW Student Government Association president Jason Ford about Lewis’ participation in the Freedom Rides and the march from Selma to Montgomery. Twice, through UMW’s Fall Break Social Justice Trips in 2018 and 2019, Ford has taken in sites visited by Farmer and Lewis during the height of the civil rights movement. Photo provided by the James Farmer Multicultural Center.

Q: What are some highlights of Farmer Legacy 2020?
A: Besides the birthday celebration, UMW students are planning a special tribute on Jan. 16 to honor Dr. Farmer. This spring is the 30th anniversary of the Multicultural Fair, and in March, we’ll have our Social Justice and Leadership Summit. In the fall, there will be a talk by Chief of Staff and History Professor Jeff McClurken and Associate Provost Tim O’Donnell, who will share their memories of Dr. Farmer.

Q: What is a typical day for you?
A: I usually start by helping students resolve an issue or plan an upcoming program or activity. There are committee meetings with faculty and staff, and my day often ends by attending a Cultural Awareness Series event or one of our social justice initiatives.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
A: I love getting to know our students and seeing them become active members of the campus community. But it’s difficult to accomplish our mission and continue to provide high-quality programs and services with limited resources.

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I enjoy reading or playing tennis.

Q: What are your favorite social justice books?
A: Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, by Maurianne Adams, et.al.; Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, by Ozlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo; and White Fragility, also by DiAngelo.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Keep the faith!

UMW Launches Centennial Celebration of James Farmer on Jan. 13

Happy birthday, Dr. James Farmer!

This year, UMW will celebrate the centennial birthday of the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington history professor Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., who died in 1999.

This year, UMW will celebrate the centennial birthday of the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington history professor Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., who died in 1999.

Two decades after his death and on the day after he would have turned 100, the late Mary Washington professor and U.S. civil rights pioneer Dr. James L. Farmer Jr. is being lauded by the community in which he spent his final years.

Monday, January 13, 2020, not only will serve as a celebration of Farmer’s birthday, it will be the official kick-off for UMW’s Farmer Legacy 2020: A Centennial Celebration and Commitment to Actiona year of signature events and other activities related to Farmer and various social justice milestones.

Honorary chair of Farmer Legacy 2020, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), had intended to headline Monday’s celebration of his longtime friend and fellow fighter. Both men were among the original 13 participants in the 1961 Freedom Rides, organized by Farmer’s Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Unfortunately, a recent cancer diagnosis prevents Congressman Lewis from attending.

The UMW community is deeply grateful to Rep. Lewis for his commitment to Farmer’s legacy; Lewis gave an extraordinary commencement address at Mary Washington in 2011 when the University celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. Last fall, Lewis met with a UMW contingent, including President Troy Paino, on Capitol Hill to reminisce about Dr. Farmer and offer support to the yearlong centennial celebration.

Student Government Association President Jason Ford was among a UMW contingent on a recent visit to Washington, D.C., to speak with Rep. John Lewis about the Farmer Legacy 2020 celebration.

Student Government Association President Jason Ford was among a UMW contingent on a recent visit to Washington, D.C., to speak with Rep. John Lewis about the Farmer Legacy 2020 celebration.

Student Government Association President Jason Ford, a senior from Culpeper, Virginia, was a member of the UMW group that met with Lewis. At Monday’s event, Ford will address that moving experience and share his affinity for Dr. Farmer, a man he never met, but whose booming voice and engaging lectures impacted generations of Mary Washington students.

Ford will be joined by junior Courtney Flowers and President Paino, all of whom will make brief remarks prior to a Farmer birthday celebration and cake-cutting Monday, January 13, at 2:30 p.m. in Chandler Ballroom of the University Center. The event is open to the public.

UMW’s yearlong commemoration will examine the historical context of Farmer’s life and the ways in which our society currently acts on principles important to him, including civic engagement, access and inclusion.Twice, through UMW’s Fall Break Social Justice Trips in 2018 and 2019, Ford has taken in sites visited by Farmer during the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Flowers, from Torrance, California, was so compelled by what she learned about Dr. Farmer during a high school project she decided to travel all the way across the country to attend Mary Washington, a school at which Farmer taught and one that features a James Farmer Multicultural Center.

Growing up in Texas and Mississippi, James Farmer felt his heart “swell with rebellion” when he personally witnessed the injustices of Jim Crow. At age 22, Farmer co-founded CORE, which organized several protests of segregated facilities in the 1940s and 1950s. Spearheaded by Farmer, CORE led the 1961 Freedom Rides into several Southern states to test Supreme Court rulings that outlawed segregation in interstate transportation and bus terminals.

After moving to Spotsylvania County in the early 1980s, Farmer served as Distinguished Professor of History at Mary Washington College from 1985 until his retirement in January 1999, shortly before his death later that year.

“What would Dr. Farmer fight for today?” is the question the UMW community will be asking throughout 2020, the centennial year of his birth.

For the event on Monday, campus parking restrictions will be lifted. Accessibility issues should be directed to the UMW Office of Events and Conferencing at 540-654-1087.

For updates and other information, visit https://www.umw.edu/farmer/.

James Farmer Multicultural Center Turns 30

Junior Courtney Flowers was writing a high school paper when she stumbled upon a name she didn’t recognize. “It was James Farmer,” said the Los Angeles native, who spent that day on a UMW website, researching the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington history professor. “What ultimately drew me here was the James Farmer […]

James Farmer Multicultural Center Turns 30

In 2020, UMW will celebrate the centennial birthday of the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington history professor Dr. James L. Farmer Jr. – who died in 1999 – as well as the 30th anniversary of the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Photo by Lou Cordero.

In 2020, UMW will celebrate the centennial birthday of the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington history professor Dr. James L. Farmer Jr. – who died in 1999 – as well as the 30th anniversary of the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Photo by Lou Cordero.

Junior Courtney Flowers was writing a high school paper when she stumbled upon a name she didn’t recognize.

“It was James Farmer,” said the Los Angeles native, who spent that day on a UMW website, researching the late civil rights pioneer and Mary Washington history professor. “What ultimately drew me here was the James Farmer Multicultural Center.”

In 2020, the University will celebrate the centennial birthday of Dr. James L. Farmer Jr. – who died in 1999 – as well as the 30th anniversary of the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC). Created in response to an uptick in enrollment of students of color and a rash of racially biased incidents that ensued, the Center aimed to promote harmony between all groups. It fulfills Farmer’s legacy, educating the UMW community through engaging – and often life-changing – programs, from the spring Multicultural Fair to the fall Social Justice Trip. JFMC also supports 22 campus organizations and offers a welcoming haven for underrepresented students. Read more.

Call for Programs: Women’s History Month, March 2020

The Women’s History Month Planning Committee invites members of the University of Mary Washington community to submit program proposals for the annual Women’s History Month Celebration!

This year’s theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Victories and Untold Stories.

Visit students.umw.edu/multicultural/programs/womens-history-month/ or contact JoAnna Raucci (jraucci@umw.edu) for more information.

Mary Washington Casts Vote for Participation on Election Day

Forty-five students registered to vote during UMW’s celebration of National Voter Registration Day. Photo by Matthew Sanders.

Forty-five students registered to vote during UMW’s celebration of National Voter Registration Day. Photo by Matthew Sanders.

When voters from across Virginia voice their opinions at the polls tomorrow, UMW students will be among them. That’s thanks in part to rides being offered all day to students who wish to cast ballots.

“Civic engagement isn’t just an idea at Mary Washington,” said Sarah Dewees, Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), which will provide rides, along with UMW Votes, Citizens for Democracy and other campus groups. “It’s a way of life.”

With a voting rate higher than the national average – and lots of planning and energy – UMW students have worked all year to keep it that way, from prepping voters for trips to the polls to establishing a “2020 Day on Democracy,” allowing classes to be cancelled on Election Day next year.

“When individuals miss their opportunity to vote, they miss their chance to have their voices heard,” said UMW Voting Ambassador Kayli Ottomanelli, a junior who cited issues that matter to undergrads, like tuition rates and student loan debt. “When younger generations don’t turn out to vote, we’re allowing older generations to decide on these significant matters for us.” Read more.