Civil rights leader James L. Farmer Jr. was born in Marshall, Texas, in 1920. He spent his childhood in Austin but returned to Marshall to attend Wiley College, where he joined the team of "great debaters" coached by legendary teacher Melvin B. Tolson. Though Farmer had intended to become a Methodist minister, Tolson's influence—and segregation within the church—led him to activism.

In 1942, Farmer organized the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Chicago. A decade before the civil rights movement made headlines, CORE followed Gandhian principles of nonviolent direct action to fight racial discrimination, pioneering the tactics that eventually dismantled segregation in the South. More»

James L. Farmer Jr., 1963. Photo by Walter Albertin. New York World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.