The Jan. 16 news article on the Freedom Rides, “Breaking the chains of segregation,” provided lots of good background information on the risky and courageous action that Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was part of in 1961, as well as comments from four living Freedom Riders. It’s a shame that this full-page article made no mention of James Farmer, the man who co- founded the Committee of Racial Equality in 1942, organized the two-bus Freedom Ride from the District, and later taught the history of the U.S. civil rights movement at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg (now called University of Mary Washington, where I teach) and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton.
The new National Museum of African American History and Culture similarly leaves Farmer out of the story. My students and I saw a single photograph of him when we visited in October.
James Farmer was a major leader of the civil rights movement, and even though he did not spend the remainder of his life in the limelight, he deserves to not be forgotten.
Craig Vasey, Fredericksburg
Regarding the Jan. 16 editorial “Martin Luther King Jr. was a true conservative”:
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a democratic socialist.
In a 1966 speech to his staff, King said: “There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”
He told his future wife, Coretta Scott, in a letter dated July 18, 1952: “I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. . . . today capitalism has outlived its usefulness.”
These and many other statements from King are relevant to the issues of today. The solutions to today’s problems lie in deepening democracy and extending it to the economic sphere. That is democratic socialism.
Carl Goldman, Silver Spring