Dr. Ben Voth, the director of debate and associate professor at Southern Methodist University will be leading an educational tour of Marshall Texas and the campus of Wiley College on Friday January 11, 2019.  This tour is in association with his SMU class entitled:  “Ethnoviolence.”  The class studies various significant acts of human violence ranging from the Holocaust, to lynchings, the Rwandan genocide, the killing of Dallas police officers in 2016, a variety of 20th century genocides, and even the assassination of JFK in Dallas.  The course emphasizes the role of individual human idealism in overcoming these terribly tragedies so evident in the 20th century.  James Farmer Jr. was born in Marshall, Texas on January 12, 1920 and his collegiate education in debate at Wiley College laid the cornerstone of American Civil Rights by teaching him about argumentation and non-violent civil disobedience.  Those ingredients became the key points for advocating against segregation in the United States between 1942 and 1968. 

This tour will take place on the eve of Farmer’s 99th birthday.  Farmer was one of the big four Civil Rights leaders alongside Martin Luther King, Whitney Young, and Roy Wilkins.  In many respects, Farmer was a pivotal pioneer in creating non-violent direct action as a method for stopping segregation in public accommodations in the United States, beginning at Jack Sprat restaurant in Chicago in 1942.  The role of this Southern Methodist, born in Texas is emphasized in the course as a radical yet practical method for reducing global and local ethnoviolence.  His methods were directly adapted from research on the efforts of Gandhi in India.  The bus tour will leave the SMU campus around 9am and return to the campus by about 4pm.  There are some extra seats available on the bus for those who would like to hear more about this incredible heroic story originating in Texas. 

For more information, contact Dr. Voth:


See also Dr. Voth’s 2017 to book: 

James Farmer Jr:  The Great Debater

this award winning book follows up the excellent movie by Denzel Washington to explain what happened with the life of Farmer after he graduated Wiley College



 On May 1, 2017 at 5pm, my friend Gail Beil who has argued for decades for the increased appreciation of civil rights hero James Farmer Jr. was able to unveil a historical marker erected by the state of Texas in his honor.

We were joined for the dedication of the marker by the last living Freedom Rider:  Hank Thomas.  He gave eloquent remarks and never before revealed details about the time he spent with Farmer in Parchman prison in Mississippi during the Freedom Rides of 1961.  Thomas behaved heroically during the violent siege of the Freedom Ride bus at Aniston when he helped other riders escape the burning bus attacked by violent racial segregationist on Mothers Day 1961.

Thomas explained in his speech at the dedication that considerable psychological pressures were applied to Farmer in order to break him of his mission to defeat segregation by filling the jails of the segregationist governments. While in prison at Parchman, Farmer was ordered to walk naked to his cell at the end of the row of cells where he would find his prison clothes.  Thomas explained that Farmer was ordered to the cell further away in order to publicly humiliate Farmer as he walked naked past other inmates.  Thomas saw Farmer walking and noted that he kept his chin high and did not look down as a show of confidence and a refusal to be humiliated by his jailers.

Thomas also explained that the FBI provided Farmer with alleged written communication between new boyfriends his wile Lula had acquired while he was in jail.  Farmer was not deceived by these FBI deceptions according to Thomas because he knew Lula’s handwriting.  Thomas explained that this tactic was demonstrative of how far the government was willing to go to try to crush Farmer’s movement.

It was an incredible day in Marshall to see the memorial finally dedicated.  The marker is placed in front of the Paramount movie theater where James Farmer Jr. was segregated while a college student at Wiley College.  In his biography, Lay Bare the Heart, Farmer repeatedly pointed to these events at the theater as formative and intrinsically motivating to his decades long struggle against segregation.    



 50 minutes of lecture

45 minutes of questions and answers

UCLA Farmer speech 10/15/65 com dept


colleges can come up with ideas [14 minutes]

rising expectations make discrimination worse

crisis 18:24

churches school

no ghetto recruitment


speaking for others [20]

hard to do

native son Wright

get over a sense of hopelessness

slums and ghettos

segregation came down like Jericho [25]

housing is getting worse

school defacto segregation is greater now

economic progress was happening

George Wallace rapid strides

10x Africa

gap widened

narrowed during the war

after war widened

1950 53% pay of whites

1961 52% pay of whites

automation takes jobs

UE among negroes 2.5% higher than whites increasing at same rate

his own private negro

hertz rent a negro program [31]

police brutality

fabricating dream up

police experience [32]

white kids think police are friends cannot conceive of brutality

slum dweller is difference even as whites

harassment by police

verbal abuse

war on poverty [35]

cannot be controlled by politicians

long range war

representatives of the poor

only way a man can be freed

freed man is not freed not do it himself

must free himself

compared to holocaust [36]

revolution of the powerless

techniques and public relations used

easier way is through political power

votes are not wasted

urging independent political action

we support Mississippi freedom democratic party

nominations and election

criteria is not the color of the man skin but where he stands on issues 38:30

party bosses  WE may endorse a Republican [audience applause] [39:30]

40% of vote in Cleveland is black

i don’t care if he is black or white as long as he fights on the issues

negroes in business

businesses should be started in slums

get loans from small biz loan federal government

not a rival to white economy

participate in all aspects of American business

credit union

agricultural coops

visited Israel last January 1964

buy some land

work land cooperative buy mechanized equipment

cooperatives in Mississippi in Tennessee

remedial education

if i am not for myself who am i  [46]

rabbi HILLEL

if not now then when

Q&A session 47

Don Smith LA CORE

stereotypes [57]

party switch for blacks

1:02 republican vs black

more based on policies and rely on party less

African American Republican leaders left Goldwater in 64

opposed Vietnam resolution 1:08

CORE should not take that position— hurt broad base

white liberals struggle 1:20

CORE whites hard on white liberals

coalition building

puerto ricans

mexican americans

non violent training

Who killed Malcolm X 135 [cuts off full answer]