‘James Farmer: Forgotten Civil Rights Visionary’


School of Humanities and Social Science

‘James Farmer: Forgotten Civil Rights Visionary’

Dr Michael Ondaatje, University of Newcastle

This seminar has been postponed till next semester.

This work-in-prospect paper will introduce the US civil rights leader James Farmer and consider his significance to the movement that redefined the moral landscape of America and arguably the world. During the past two decades new interpretations of the “black freedom struggle” have emerged; yet within this burgeoning field Farmer’s activism has received little attention. This historiographical neglect is indeed puzzling since the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) under Farmer often served as the “razor’s edge” of the movement, co-ordinating many of the historic protests that swept the American South in the 1960s. Widely referred to as one of the “Big Four” civil rights leaders of that decade, and subsequently honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian honour), Farmer, however, has yet to be the subject of a book-length study – until now. In this seminar I will begin to contemplate some of the important questions that will inevitably form the basis of my biography.

Michael Ondaatje
is a Lecturer in American History at the University of Newcastle. Michael’s research centres on African American history, with a particular emphasis on black conservatism and the civil rights movement. His forthcoming book, Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America, is due for release with Penn Press in early 2009; and he is currently working on a biography of the US civil rights leader James Farmer.

Staff, students and members of the public are welcome

Enquiries to:
Victoria Haskins Victoria.Haskins@newcastle.edu.au Ph 49215221

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