Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement

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9780875651880: Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement

Texas native James Farmer is one of the “Big Four” of the turbulent 1960s civil rights movement, along with Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young. Farmer might be called the forgotten man of the movement, overshadowed by Martin Luther King Jr., who was deeply influenced by Farmer’s interpretation of Gandhi’s concept of nonviolent protest.

Born in Marshall, Texas, in 1920, the son of a preacher, Farmer grew up with segregated movie theaters and “White Only” drinking fountains. This background impelled him to found the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942. That same year he mobilized the first sit-in in an all-white restaurant near the University of Chicago. Under Farmer’s direction, CORE set the pattern for the civil rights movement by peaceful protests which eventually led to the dramatic “Freedom Rides” of the 1960s.

In Lay Bare the Heart Farmer tells the story of the heroic civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. This moving and unsparing personal account captures both the inspiring strengths and human weaknesses of a movement beset by rivalries, conflicts and betrayals. Farmer recalls meetings with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson (for whom he had great respect), and Lyndon Johnson (who, according to Farmer, used Adam Clayton Powell Jr., to thwart a major phase of the movement).

James Farmer has courageously worked for dignity for all people in the United States. In this book, he tells his story with forthright honesty.

First published in 1985 by Arbor House, this edition contains a new foreword by Don Carleton, director of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, and a new preface.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

James Farmer taught history at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He received the Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1998. Dr. Farmer died in 1999.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

Chapter 28: President Johnson's giant frame leaned sideways over the arm of the leather upholstered chair in which he was sitting.

"Mr. Farmer, I've got to get this civil rights bill through Congress, and I'm going to do it. If I never do anything else in my whole life, I'm going to get this job done. . . . You civil rights leaders can help me on that. You all should tell the Republicans that if they vote for this bill, you'll tell your people to vote for them. . . . If I can't get the Republicans, then I'm going to have to get the Dixiecrats. That's the southern Democrats, you know. That's really going to be hard. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but somehow I'm going to have to break down their resistance."

We were interrupted by several incoming phone calls-senators returning the president's calls. He twisted arms, threatened and cajoled, and then looked up to make sure I was duly impressed with his efforts on behalf of the bill.

Between the calls, I asked, "Mr. President, how did you get to be this way? You're a southerner, and your congressional record on civil rights was not very good. What changed you?"

"I'll answer that question by quoting a friend of yours," he replied. "'Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I'm free at last.'"

What he meant by that reference to King's march on Washington speech, of course, was that, as president, he was freed from accountability to a southern constituency and could be responsive to the needs of all the people.

"The southerners tell me," he went on, "that they'll buy this bill if I take the public accommodations section out. But I won't do that. The public accommodations part is the heart and the guts of this measure, and I will not remove it."

I asked him how he came to view public accommodations to be so important and he related a story in response.

"One day down in Texas many years ago, my maid was going on vacation with her husband. Lady Bird-that's Mrs. Johnson, you know-told the maid to take our dog with her; we had a little beagle. My maid said, 'Mrs. Johnson, please don't make me take that dog with me. My husband and I will be driving across the South and it's going to be tough enough finding places to stay, just being black, without having a dog with us.'

"Mr. Farmer, that made me cry. Just to think that a wonderful woman like my maid couldn't stay in any hotel she wanted to. It made me mad. I'd lived in Texas all my life and I'd never thought about it before. Right then I swore that if I ever got any power, I would do something about it. Now I have some power and by God I'm going to do something about it."

I looked at him and said nothing. I found myself thinking of that terrible day less than a month earlier when President Kennedy's brains were blown out in Texas, and of the call I received from Johnson three days later.

"Mr. Farmer, this is Lyndon Johnson. I first wanted to call and tell you that I remember when you came to my office when I was vice- president. You made a good suggestion to me that helped me a lot. And I asked you to do something for me, and you followed through on that. I just want you to know that I appreciated that a lot."

"Thank you, Mr. President."

"Now, we're going to have to pick up this ball and run with it. I'm going to need your help in the months and maybe the years that lie ahead, and I hope I'll get it."

"If we're going the same way, Mr. President, we can go together."

"I'm glad to hear you say that. Next time you're in Washington, drop by and see me."

I knew that Johnson had to win the confidence of black leaders, for the absence of their trust had helped deny him the nomination in 1960. Nevertheless, I was flattered by what came to be known as "the Johnson treatment." Never before had I been called by a president.

Now, here I was in the Oval Office, still being buttered up by that flattery. The fact that I knew what was happening did not lessen its effectiveness.

He slapped his knee and drawled, "Well, Jim, I know you're interested in a lot of other things besides this bill. What else can I do to help your cause?"

I leaned back in the big chair and unbuttoned my collar and loosened tie; I had gained weight and the shirt was not comfortable.

"Mr. President, there is one thing that keeps me awake nights. We've battered many doors open, and when the civil rights bill is enacted into law, many walls will come tumbling down. Yet, there are millions of Americans of all races who won't be able to walk through those doors or across those fallen walls. The reason? A lack of basic educational skills; the inability to read, write, and compute."

"I agree a thousand percent," the president said, "but what are we going to do about it?

"We have in the movement thousands of volunteers with intelligence, dedication, and boundless energies, who don't consider sitting-in, freedom riding, and going to jail to be the most meaningful things in the world any longer. They're standing by now, waiting for direction. Reading specialists can instruct them in teaching adults to read, and we can fan them out through the country. There are over twenty million adults who cannot read up to a fourth-grade level. I believe we can wipe out that functional illiteracy in ten to fifteen years."

"I think that's a great idea," said Johnson, "and we can make it work."

Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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Description du livre Texas Christian University Press,U.S., United States, 1998. Paperback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Texas native James Farmer was one of the Big Four leaders of the civil rights movement, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young. Farmer might be called the forgotten man of the movement, overshadowed by King, who was deeply influenced by Farmer s application of Ghandi s principles of nonviolent protest. Born in Marshall, Texas, in 1920, Farmer was the founding director of the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942. Under Farmer s direction, CORE set the pattern for the Civil Rights movement by organizing sit-ins and peaceful protests, beginning with a 1942 sit-in at a coffee shop in the University of Chicago area. In Lay Bare the Heart Farmer tells the story of the heroic civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. This moving and unsparing personal account captures both the inspiring strengths and human weaknesses of the movement. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9780875651880

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