Interview with James Farmer
QUESTION 45
INTERVIEWER:

OK, ONE OTHER QUESTION. YOU MENTIONED SOMETHING ABOUT THE FREEDOM HIGHWAY. I'D NEVER HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT THAT. WHAT WAS THAT?

James Farmer:

In 1962, the year after the Freedom Ride, CORE decided it had to do something to keep up the moment—couldn't coast on the basis of the Freedom Ride, so the program we decided on was what we called the Freedom Highways campaign. In other words, we tried to do on major highways what we had done on interstate travel—that is to desegregate those highways, to desegregate the eating establishments and the sleeping establishments: Howard Johnsons, Holiday Inns and the other motels and inns. We desegregated Route 40, that skip of road between New York and Baltimore, and Washington, which had been notorious in discriminating against blacks, even Africans. It created international incidents. We desegregated that after a major campaign where CORE people came in from all over the country in their cars stopping [at] every eating establishment on Route 40 and sitting in where they were refused service. Finally, the managers got together and agreed across the board to open up. We had campaigned in the state of North Carolina, where at one point we had more than 3,000 students in jail in Greensboro, North Carolina. The leader of that campaign, who was chairman of the Student Chapter of CORE in Greensboro was a young man, who was an honor student, quarterback on the football team. His name was Jesse Jackson. We had the campaign throughout the state and we did succeed in desegregating the eating establishments and the sleeping establishments on the highways there. Unfortunately, there was no publicity outside the state of North Carolina.