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

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TCU Press, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 370 pages
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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.

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I am the great neice of Jay Holmes Smith. Just wanted to make sure you knew his proper first name as you have it as "Jeff." I look forward to reading your entire book as I am just now
discovering all the amazing things my Great Uncle did for peace and justice.
Thank you,
Sue Mocniak
(my mom's maiden name is: Smith. The Schmid family came over from Switzerland.)


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Drawing Board
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Looking for a Place to Stand
Spreading of the Wings
CAPTAIN RAYS INDEX FINGER shot through the air Follow that police
Cut Off at the Pass
The Nixon Foray

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Page 370 - must forge the instrumentalities through which that nationwide repudiation can be effected. We must not stop until racial brotherhood is established in the United States as a fact as well as an ideal. Ironically enough, the present unfortunate circumstances brought on by the war afford an excellent setting for immediate spadework in this direction.

About the author (1998)

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.

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