james farmer speaking fee
JF: Of course there were no contradictions, yes, but let’s look at the South -- you know how difficult it is to generalize anyplace -- but in many communities in the South, Negroes felt that there was good white people, that there was this paternalism which was accepted. I don’t think that anybody is going to be lulled in a sense of security while he is losing money. [00:24:03] RPW: The whole state’s dying (talking together) rapidly. [00:23:18] RPW: Dealing with the defacto -- inferiority -- he said “this is terrible, but this is absolute”. JF: No, I don’t think so. JF: I think there is some of that -- there is some divide-and-rule -- and also the fact that a reporter wants to make it, he wants to move ahead with his paper and this is always news -- conflict is news, agreement is not news. Now, 3 years later, we have 175 chapters and at least 75 thousand members, so our day is not ended, we haven’t reached our peak. In the Times tells the story about the head of the press – the Mississippi press organization, saying now is the time to look at ourselves for a change, to find out what’s really wrong us, “us” being the Mississippi power structure. JF: Instead of a quota of Negroes and number of Negroes, as a start. Local media coverage of these very special events, and word- of-mouth have made a "James Farmer Party" in demand in the South. [00:19:42] RPW: Now we are up against the question of tactics -- psychological tactics. If the relationship which I had with him were valid at all -- I had several conversations with him, and my feeling was that the President did intellectualize civil rights issue and intellectualized it well, but I saw no depth of feeling there on his part. I don’t think it is very important but it is -- it was used very, I think, unfortunately by people against him. James' business soared in the Southeast as a result. Farmer was arrested on several occasions for his participation. For the past two years without much publicity we’ve had 30, 40 and 50 staff workers working the whole state of Louisiana, and this summer we plan to be stepping that up. [00:11:03] RPW: Robert Moses, himself. As a frequent event speaker and guest, James’s natural grace and warm personality light up any room. [00:11:05] RPW: Now, a man may not search -- search is the word you used, I believe -- for absorption, blood absorption, but it may eventuate. In 1968 Farmer unsuccessfully ran for Congress; the following year he joined President Richard Nixon's administration as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. JF: Well, assuming that then we have broken down the wall. Our interiors combine the rich traditions of the past with the sensibilities of contemporary life. He said Irving Howell as a new kind of billboard -- he has picked my place out for me and puts me in it -- there is rough outside of optimism but enormously effective. I pointed out that I thought that the compromise – or that the DTP’s position in rejecting the compromise was morally right but politically wrong, and they had to make a decision on whether they wanted to be moral on this issue or whether they wanted to be political. I’m not dwelling on it. So it would be a permissive society in that way. [00:08:15] RPW: These are guide lines of another sort, from what Mr. Javitz is asking for, is that right? It’s tending to feel isolated now, feel that it’s becoming an island and that the rest of the country is pointing at it. Before demonstrations started, and by demonstrations I mean massive demonstrations -- say from Birmingham -- there was very little discussion, constructive discussion; lots of talk but no real action, and the talk went on intermidably [interminably] and the gains were negligible, but after the demonstrations began, people recognized the urgency of it. But it did apply to them to some degree. Yes, many parents bus their children all over the city to attend good schools -- private schools. JF: Well, I suspect that one thing that had happened was some internecine warfare within the movement, and that frequently happens as you approach a conclusion. I consider it to be one of the most valuable functions of demonstration -- to weld a group of people together in unity -- to stimulate their motivation, and to recruit. And I think not, this is not what I am searching for -- this is not the type of integration that I am looking for. [00:13:38] RPW: Now, this ferment in the movement, contention within the movement is pulling against the notion of a united front, though, isn’t it, in leadership or in policy. There was a crowd of people at the bus terminal, but these people were largely reports, plain clothesmen and policemen. Now Malcolm is not lower class -- Malcolm has a home out in Jamaica, Long Island -- a house and yard, Malcolm drives a new Oldsmobile, Malcolm wears two hundred dollar suits and expensive hand-made shirts -- but Malcolm has a r and the footwork to keep in pace with the changing mood of people -- he doesn’t lead them but he reflects it and verbalizes what they are thinking -- so I suspect that there is going to be an attrition among Negro leadership, depending upon their adaptability to this, and their ability to speak with the proper vocabulary. We try to look at the enemy and say “There but for the grace of God, go I” -- and to realize that he is in large measure, the creature of his environment and of the conditioning -- the social conditioning, and that if our experiences have been identical with his, then we probably would share many of present biases. I have had an account from various people that you had to patch these things together. [00:33:02] RPW: That would apply to men of any complexion, or any ethnic origin. Farmer contends that civil rights activists need the assistance and talents of both black and white people, and he discusses the leadership and tactics of the civil rights movement. I don’t see a demonstration as a rabbit’s foot, however, or as a fetish, but I’m not a dogmatist there, that wherever you have a problem you wave the rabbit foot and the dogma somehow disappears. James L. Farmer, Jr. (1920-1999) was a civil rights activist and politician. [00:07:09] RPW: In other words, you are saying that two questions are to yourself so you understand what you are saying. [00:10:15] RPW: It is coming to that. He just bases his hopes on that. [00:12:23] RPW: Now if the stage to make them confront their prejudice, rather than try to persuade them that they don’t have any --- now they try to say they don’t have any -- that is what I am getting at, you see, the sentimental view is to say “Well, you don’t have it” -- “I don’t have it”. We want to use a stick and a carrot as well. NOPACTalent does not claim or represent itself as James Theodore Farmer III’s speakers bureau, agent, manager or management company for James Theodore Farmer III or any celebrity on this website. Some of the conflicts, some of the tensions could have been avoided. Cynically, as a useful symbol or just ignorantly accepting it. [00:01:06] RPW: You mean the real carry-over -- if I am interpreting you right -- would be to say “not the blackest white woman” but a human being. I think that Negroes can only come into an integrated society as an equal – proud and equal partner who are proud of their own heritage and traditions and sub-culture and come in because they have something to give and something to share and are willing to receive what others have to give, and this pride does not mean in my judgment a rejection of the contributions which others have made. They won. [00:15:00] RPW: This leads to a matter of quotas, doesn’t it? Local Mississippi community is not at all interested in the theorizing, and at this structure sees no real identification between their struggle and the struggle in Viet Nam or any place else in the world. JF: Well, I think there is a possibility of an indictment because of the desire of Mississippi to get off the hook and to escape the economic pressure from without and to improve its public relations image generally. Now some Negroes at least, in the fact of eventuation, comes the withdrawal from it, has lost their identity through that absorption. If a youngster can’t read you’re not going to be able to retrain him to fit into automated industry. Malcolm X, for example -- when Malcolm joined the second school boycott, which was obviously for desegregation of the schools -- yet he speaks for separation. -- and morally. So the demonstrations work if they are focused, but obviously they are more complicated here. I attended an interesting meeting yesterday, which there was discussion of a relatively new idea, of urging people who have money and who invest that money to tithe in their investments. JF: He says “Mature Negro Politics”, yes. Well, first of all, negotiations have been going on in the South for many, many years, ever since slavery. Let us say that -- I know your view on it -- the nonviolent demonstration -- that is clear, I am not talking about that distinction -- violent and nonviolent. [00:27:32] RPW: How do I know? Farmer also discusses the 1964 Democratic Convention and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party's participation in that convention. There is no one Negro leader now -- there are Negro leaders on local levels, regional levels and more or less national levels, springing up every week as the movement becomes larger. Well, people always consider things to be absolute when they are not aware of the historical context. We’ve had demonstrations in housing that have won – won minor victories, such as opening up one apartment house or housing development to Negroes. JF: Well, we saw -- first I ought to say that we looked upon our efforts in the early forties as being experimental -- experimenting with a new technique, and we longed for and dreamed about the development of a mass movement, which fortunately we do have now; but we saw it as first appealing to the conscience of the majority, and second, making the continuation of segregation so expensive that it would become intolerable. JF: Well, I think both things are true. I think that we’ll have to struggle county by county, city by city, town by town, state by state. JF: No, I just don’t think that that it has moved any further in that direction. [00:10:42] RPW: Now the other question that came to mind out of what you said earlier, was this -- about the gap between the white man and the Negro, you see, the decreasing gap. JF: Yes. Nor do I think that most Negroes will choose to live in what are now lily white suburbs. JF: There is the element of a social reference involved in the matter of -- in two ways. I am groping to see the distinction in terms of social -- general social reference, between one kind of demonstration and another kind of demonstration.
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