Farmer speaking before microphones outside Hotel Theresa. James Leonard Farmer, Jr. (January 12, 1920 - July 9, 1999) was a civil rights activist and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was a child prodigy at the age of 14, and enrolled at Wiley College, where he was the captain of the debate team. He earned a Bachelor of Science at Wiley College in 1938, and a Bachelor of Divinity from Howard University School of Religion in 1941. Inspired by Howard Thurman, a professor of theology at Howard University, Farmer became interested in pacifism. In 1942, Farmer co-founded the Committee of Racial Equality, which later became the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), an organization that sought to bring an end to racial segregation in the United States through nonviolence. Farmer was the organization's first leader, serving as the national chairman from 1942 to 1944. As the Director of CORE, Farmer was considered one of the "Big Six" of the Civil Rights Movement. He was the initiator and organizer of the 1961 Freedom Ride, which eventually led to the desegregation of inter-state transportation in the United States. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, shortly before his death in 1999 at the age of 79. Photographed for the World Telegram & Sun photo by Stanley Wolfson, 1965.