January 25, 2020

UMW Launches Centennial Celebration, ‘Farmer Legacy 2020’

For the University of Mary Washington, 2020 will be a particularly significant year. As civic engagement ramps up for the national election next November, UMW will celebrate several institutional milestones, including the 30th anniversary of the James Farmer Multicultural Center and the tenth anniversary of UMW’s Women’s and Gender Studies program.

UMW will honor the legacy of Dr. James Farmer, who taught at Mary Washington, during a yearlong celebration.

UMW will honor the legacy of Dr. James Farmer, who taught at Mary Washington, during a yearlong celebration.

And, in recognition of Dr. Farmer’s activism and determination to, in his own words, “do something about” injustice, Farmer Legacy 2020 will encourage the campus and surrounding community to take action in support of inclusive excellence. We will ask: What would Farmer fight for today? Moreover, January 12, 2020, will mark the centennial birthday of civil rights pioneer and UMW professor Dr. James Farmer. In commemoration, UMW will launch a year of reflection and a drive for action called Farmer Legacy 2020: A Centennial Celebration and Commitment to Action. With Farmer Legacy 2020, the University will focus on Dr. Farmer’s indelible imprint on U.S. history – and on UMW specifically. Through several signature events, Dr. Farmer’s influence and other social justice milestones will be celebrated.

As a boy in Marshall, Texas, James Farmer felt his heart “swell with rebellion” when he witnessed the injustices of Jim Crow. In 1942, 22-year-old Farmer co-founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which organized several protests of segregated facilities in the 1940s and 1950s. CORE, under his leadership, led the 1961 Freedom Rides into several southern states, including Virginia, 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.

Earlier this week, a group of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members returned from a four-day replication of the original Freedom Rides Tour. This tour, organized and led by the University’s James Farmer Multicultural Center and Office of Equity and Access, included two buses and several faculty guides. The buses followed the route of the 1961 Freedom Rides and visited sites along the way, such as the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, the Anniston bus bombing, and the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

The Freedom Rides trip and other events this fall form a prelude to UMW’s yearlong celebration in 2020 of a Mary Washington icon and the values he exemplified. Community members are encouraged to join students in becoming a force for positive social change. Plan to visit the Farmer Legacy 2020 website throughout this year of commemoration to learn more about events and activities.

UMW Launches Centennial Celebration, ‘Farmer Legacy 2020’

For the University of Mary Washington, 2020 will be a particularly significant year. As civic engagement ramps up for the national election next November, UMW will celebrate several institutional milestones, including the 30th anniversary of the James Farmer Multicultural Center and the tenth anniversary of UMW’s Women’s and Gender Studies program.

UMW will honor the legacy of Dr. James Farmer, who taught at Mary Washington, during a yearlong celebration.

UMW will honor the legacy of Dr. James Farmer, who taught at Mary Washington, during a yearlong celebration.

And, in recognition of Dr. Farmer’s activism and determination to, in his own words, “do something about” injustice, Farmer Legacy 2020 will encourage the campus and surrounding community to take action in support of inclusive excellence. We will ask: What would Farmer fight for today? Moreover, January 12, 2020, will mark the centennial birthday of civil rights pioneer and UMW professor Dr. James Farmer. In commemoration, UMW will launch a year of reflection and a drive for action called Farmer Legacy 2020: A Centennial Celebration and Commitment to Action. With Farmer Legacy 2020, the University will focus on Dr. Farmer’s indelible imprint on U.S. history – and on UMW specifically. Through several signature events, Dr. Farmer’s influence and other social justice milestones will be celebrated.

As a boy in Marshall, Texas, James Farmer felt his heart “swell with rebellion” when he witnessed the injustices of Jim Crow. In 1942, 22-year-old Farmer co-founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which organized several protests of segregated facilities in the 1940s and 1950s. CORE, under his leadership, led the 1961 Freedom Rides into several southern states, including Virginia, 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.

Earlier this week, a group of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members returned from a four-day replication of the original Freedom Rides Tour. This tour, organized and led by the University’s James Farmer Multicultural Center and Office of Equity and Access, included two buses and several faculty guides. The buses followed the route of the 1961 Freedom Rides and visited sites along the way, such as the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, the Anniston bus bombing, and the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

The Freedom Rides trip and other events this fall form a prelude to UMW’s yearlong celebration in 2020 of a Mary Washington icon and the values he exemplified. Community members are encouraged to join students in becoming a force for positive social change. Plan to visit the Farmer Legacy 2020 website throughout this year of commemoration to learn more about events and activities.

UMW Seeking Nominations for James Farmer Lecture

The University of Mary Washington is seeking nominations for a speaker to present the annual James Farmer Lecture. Civil Rights leader James Farmer taught at UMW for more than a decade. A bust of Farmer is on Campus Walk, in front of Trinkle Hall. The program that has honored the legacy of former UMW professor James Farmer for the past decade is presented by a leader in the areas of civil rights and social justice. The lecturer chosen will be a person whose work exemplifies Farmer’s qualities and traits through his or her contributions to civil rights and social justice as an activist, scholar, public official or professional. Xavier Richardson, executive vice president of corporate development and community affairs for Mary Washington Healthcare, gave the inaugural lecture in 2013. He’s known in the region for his volunteer efforts with many community organizations and mentoring services for youth. Any member of the UMW community can submit a nomination, as well as students and members of the Fredericksburg community. To nominate an individual to give the James Farmer Lecture, visit http://jamesfarmer.umw.edu/, select Lecture Nomination and complete the form. Nominations will be accepted through March 31. The James Farmer Lecture and Post-Doctoral Committee will review all nominations and select the lecturer. James Farmer was a pioneer of the civil rights movement, as the founder of the Congress of Racial Equality and the organizer of the 1961 Freedom Rides. He taught civil rights history at Mary Washington for more than a decade and received the Medal of Freedom in 1998, shortly before his death in 1999.

Senator, Alumna Receives UMW Lifetime Service Award

Georgia State Sen. Nan Orrock ’65 today received one of the University of Mary Washington’s most prestigious awards, the Monroe Medal. Orrock was honored by President Richard V. Hurley and the Board of Visitors during a dedication ceremony for the James Farmer Lecture Hall.

This distinction marks only the third time the medal has been presented at UMW.

Sen. Nan Orrock received the Monroe Medal.

Sen. Nan Orrock was recognized for a lifetime of activism.

The award recognizes individuals who in some extraordinary way have provided service to humanity and society that is lasting.

Orrock has served in the Georgia state legislature since 1987, including as House Majority Whip and committee chair. Her engagement with public policy dates back to her participation in the 1963 March on Washington while a student, an experience that has led to a lifetime of activism.

“My life was changed and touched by [civil rights leader James Farmer],” she said. “He was part of the groundbreaking leadership of those stood up when in some of areas of the country it meant taking your life into your hands to stand up.”

In 1966, only one year after graduating from Mary Washington with a degree in English, Orrock helped organize and lead a 600-mile walk from Whitesville, N.C., to Wilmington, N.C., for striking textile workers. She went on to work for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Atlanta, Ga., and Mississippi, and led a community rights project in Virginia.

Orrock is a founder of both the Georgia Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Working Families Caucus, and is the president of the Women Legislators’ Lobby.

The Monroe Medal, established in 2001, recognizes those who keep with the tradition of service of President James Monroe, for whom the award is named. Carlisle M. Williams, Jr., received the award in 2003 and William H. Leighty ’77 received the award in 2004.

During the ceremony, Rector Holly Cuellar ’89 unveiled a plaque dedicating the space to James Farmer, who taught the history of the civil rights movement to Mary Washington students for about a dozen years before his retirement in 1998.

Professor Timothy O’Donnell recounted Farmer’s influence on hundreds of Mary Washington students who witnessed the civil rights leader’s firsthand accounts.

“On this day of dedication we pause yet again to honor a great American whose life in service to our nation is well documented, even if not widely celebrated,” O’Donnell said.

Several UMW entities bear Farmer’s name, including the James Farmer Multicultural Center and the James Farmer Scholars Program. In 2012, students in Professor Jeffrey McClurken’s digital history seminar created a publicly accessible digital archive of Farmer’s lectures.

McClurken, who is chair of the Department of History and American Studies, recalled his time as a student of Farmer 20 years ago.

“It is indeed right and appropriate that we designate, that we consecrate, this place where the civil rights movement came to life through the resonant voice, the wry humor, the deep intelligence and the raw emotion of a man who had lived through the movement, had changed the movement and had been changed by it,” McClurken said.

UMW Dedicates Lecture Hall for Civil Rights Leader, Nov. 15

The University of Mary Washington will dedicate a lecture hall in honor of civil rights leader James L. Farmer, Jr. during a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 15. The ceremony, which will begin at 4 p.m. in Monroe Hall, Room 116, is open to the public.

The bust of civil rights leader James Farmer overlooks Campus Walk. Farmer taught at Mary Washington for about a dozen years until his death in 1998.

The bust of civil rights leader James Farmer overlooks Campus Walk. Farmer taught at Mary Washington for about a dozen years until his retirement in 1998.

Farmer, founder of the Congress of Racial Equality and one of the “Big Four,” worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. on nonviolent protests to eliminate racial inequality. Farmer taught the history of the civil rights movement to Mary Washington students for about a dozen years before his retirement in 1998. That year, President Bill Clinton awarded Farmer the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Several UMW entities bear Farmer’s name, including the James Farmer Multicultural Center and the James Farmer Scholars Program.

“Our dedication of the lecture hall is to honor a man who changed our nation, our way of life, and in his later years our understanding of the civil rights movement,” said Leah Cox, special assistant for diversity and inclusion.

Georgia State Sen. Nan Orrock ’65 will deliver a keynote address for the occasion. Orrock has served in the Georgia state legislature since 1987, including as House Majority Whip and committee chair. Her engagement with public policy dates back to her participation in the 1963 March on Washington, an experience that has led to a lifetime of activism.

President Richard V. Hurley and the Board of Visitors also will be on-hand for the commemoration.

UMW Bell Rings to Observe March on Washington Anniversary

The University of Mary Washington observed the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington on Wednesday, August 28. The march and rally, which took place on August 28, 1963, brought together more than 200,000 people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and became known as a watershed moment for the civil rights movement.

People walk past a stone marking the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King made his 1963 speech on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial August 27, 2003 in Washington DC. The 40th anniversary of of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech will be marked on August 28. King made his speech during a rally at the memorial.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images/Courtesy of istockphoto)

People walk past a stone marking the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King made his 1963 speech on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial. The 50th anniversary of of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech was marked on August 28. King made his speech during a rally at the memorial. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images/Courtesy of istockphoto)

At 3 p.m., the bell tolled on the Fredericksburg campus, joining the nationwide “Let Freedom Ring” celebration. Throughout the day, students, faculty and staff recited excerpts from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” in a video that appeared on television screens across the campus. The anniversary march and presidential speech in Washington, D.C., was broadcast at the Underground on the Fredericksburg campus.

“The march was a momentous occasion during the civil rights movement, because it was attended by so many followed by the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Leah Cox, special assistant for diversity and inclusion. “This moment was further enhanced by Dr. King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Fifty years later we are still working to achieve social justice for many groups with the issues that are now confronting our nation. It’s a renewal of our commitment to achieving equality.”

The UMW commemoration also honored the work of civil rights leader and former UMW Professor James L. Farmer Jr., who founded the Congress of Racial Equality. One of the “Big Four,” Farmer worked closely with King on nonviolent protests to eliminate racial inequality. On the day King delivered his famous speech, Farmer was in jail for “disturbing the peace” in Plaquemine, La.  He sent his own speech to the March on Washington, which was read by a CORE aide: “We will not stop,” Farmer wrote, “until the dogs stop biting us in the South and the rats stop biting us in the North.”

Farmer taught the history of the civil rights movement to Mary Washington students for about a dozen years before his retirement in 1998. That year, President Bill Clinton awarded Farmer the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Click here to view the embedded video.

UMW Receives International Award for Freedom Rides Tribute

The University of Mary Washington has been recognized with the prestigious international “Grand Gold” Circle of Excellence Award by the Council of Advancement and Support for Education (CASE) for its 2011 tribute to James Farmer and the 1960s Freedom Rides.

UMW received the top award in the special events category and was one of only 19 institutions receiving the “grand gold” award for exceptional entries. CASE received more than 2,800 entries in 40 categories from 567 member institutions, independent schools and nonprofit organizations around the world. The International Circle of Excellence awards program distinguishes outstanding work in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing. The work was judged by peer professionals as well as those from outside the educational arena.

Simeon Booker and Reginald Green sit in front of student exhibit

“In the marking of an event that changed the course of history, I’m thrilled that the rest of the world now recognizes what I long have believed: the University of Mary Washington mounted the greatest tribute possible to James Farmer and the Freedom Rides,” said President Richard V. Hurley. “Nothing has made me prouder.”

UMW launched one of the most comprehensive institution-wide projects in the history of the university to honor the legacy of James Farmer, a former UMW professor who was the architect of the Freedom Rides that challenged the segregation of public transportation throughout the South. The semester-long commemoration centered on a 1960s-era bus embellished with historical photos of the 1961 Freedom Rides and featured guest lecturers, student exhibits and a limited-release showing of the PBS documentary “Freedom Riders.” The tribute culminated with commencement addresses by former Freedom Riders, U.S. Representatives Bob Filner and John Lewis, who applauded the university’s efforts. Said Lewis, “No other university—no other college—in America is pausing like you have to celebrate and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.”  In addition, UMW hosted a stop by the PBS “American Experience” bus carrying college-age students—including UMW student Charles Reed—retracing the route of the first Freedom Ride.

Charles Reed '11

A UMW Freedom Rides website chronicled the celebration, and UMW published a special “Freedom Rides” edition of the UMW Magazine. The events attracted national media attention and brought thousands of visitors to the Fredericksburg campus.

For more information about the CASE award, go to www.case.org/Award_Programs/Circle_of_Excellence/2012_Winners/Special_Events_2012.html.

James Farmer Lectures Available Online

“The James Farmer Lectures: Group Portrait 1” by ModernSelkie on Flickr

Civil Rights leader and former Mary Washington professor James Farmer’s reflection lectures are now available online as part of a digital archive. Four students constructed the archive as part of Associate Professor of History Jeff McClurken’s “Adventures in Digital History 2012” seminar.

Seniors Laura Donahue, Michelle Martz and Caitlin Murphy and junior Kelsey Matthews worked with McClurken and members of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies team to archive 13 of Farmer’s lectures from 1983. Farmer taught civil rights history at Mary Washington and was Commonwealth Professor of History at the time of the reflection lecture series.

To learn more about the project or to view the lectures, visit http://jamesfarmerlectures.umwblogs.org/.

UMW Announces Nomination Process for James Farmer Lecture

The University of Mary Washington has announced important changes to the James Farmer Lecture, a program that has honored the legacy of former UMW professor James Farmer for the past decade. The popular address will be continued as an annual lecture presented by a leader in the areas of civil rights and social justice. As a way to recognize the role Farmer played in enriching the intellectual life of Mary Washington, the lecture will be held every fall on the Fredericksburg campus starting next year.

In addition, nominations will be open to the community. The lecturer chosen will be a person whose work exemplifies Farmer’s qualities and traits through his or her contributions to civil rights and social justice as an activist, scholar, public official or professional.

Read the full press release.

“Sights of Struggle: Race, Art, Pedagogy” Lecture Tonight

Leigh Raiford, associate professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, will present the lecture “Sights of Struggle: Race, Art, Pedagogy” tonight. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411 and is free and open to the public.

Raiford is the author of “Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle” (University of North Carolina Press, 2011) and co-editor with Renee Romano of “The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory” (University of Georgia Press, 2006).

The lecture is part of the “James Farmer and the Struggle for Civil Rights” freshman seminar course and is sponsored by the James Farmer Lecturer and Postdoctoral Committee.

For more information, contact Jess Rigelhaupt at (540) 654-1480.