Interview with James Farmer
QUESTION 32
INTERVIEWER:

NOW, JACKSON JAILS, A LOT OF PEOPLE TN THE MOVEMENT HAD SAID THAT WHEN THAT WAS A REAL TURNING POINT FOR THEM, THAT MANY OF THEM, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE NEW TO IT, FELT AFTER THE EXPERIENCE [unintelligible] WITH THAT THERE WERE THEN MOVEMENT PEOPLE AND, THAT IT HAD SHAPED THEIR LIFE, THAT EXPERIENCE. WHAT WENT ON IN JAILS, WHY WAS [unintelligible] VICTORY EVEN THOUGH YOU WERE IN THE WORST JAIL IN MISSISSIPPI?

James Farmer:

There was a sense of victory among the Freedom Riders in the jails. We were moved from jail to jail because we really literally filled up the jail. We filled up the city jail; we moved to the county jail. We were moved from there to the county prison farm and from there to Parchman State Penitentiary of Mississippi--the maximum security unit. Freedom Riders were still coming in. My office was recruiting Freedom Riders from all over the country, black and white, giving them quickie training sessions in New Orleans and Chicago sending them into Jackson Mississippi. Other Freedom Riders were just boarding buses on their own and coming down to Mississippi, to be a part of this movement. Now the sense of things in the jail was that we had Mississippi on the run and that meant we had racism and segregation on the run. But [unintelligible] our struggle for freedom. Yes, particularly in reference to the Freedom Ride, I don't remember how it was worded now. I looked for that, that cablegram in the CORE archives which are on microfilm at Princeton and several other places. I haven't been able to find it, probably some CORE staff member who had a better sense of history than I, [laughter] walked away with it. But there was such a cablegram.