Interview with Dr. Claudine Ferrell

by mballard ~ December 5th, 2009. Filed under: Audio, Interviews.

Download Interview with Professor Claudine Ferrell


In this interview, Professor Claudine Ferrell explained in fine detail her memories of James Farmer’s time teaching at Mary Washington.  She described her relationship with Mr. Farmer, as well as her first impressions of him.  She discussed how Mr. Farmer’s position in the history department was unique and gave numerous examples that highlighted his differences.  She also explained how the history department adjusted in an attempt to accommodate him as a historical icon, an untrained professor, and a disabled faculty member.  She recalled how Mr. Farmer’s classes affected her own teaching off African-American studies, one of her major historical concentrations. She shared her memories about the relationship Mr. Farmer had with his students, fellow professors and the school as a whole, revealing several surprising issues, such as cheating and honor code violations by Mr. Farmer’s students.  Professor Ferrell also discussed Mr. Farmer’s lasting thoughts and memories of the Civil Rights movement and how they affected his later life and his ambitions for civil rights progress.  Furthermore, she recalled how inattention of society to his activism affected him.

Outline of interview with Prof. Claudine Ferrell
Conducted on November 16, 2009


Professional background
Farmer’s first year
First impressions of him
How Farmer was a unique professor
Issues regarding Farmer’s position/possible controversies


Farmer’s views on Civil Rights movement


Farmer’s impact on her study and teaching of African-American History
Involvement in planning his classes
Times spent at Farmer’s residence
The importance to Farmer of teaching about the civil rights movement
Essay Farmer typically assigned


How Farmer viewed his students/involvement of faculty in protecting him from disrespect
Relationship with students


How well Farmer was known to school
How Farmer discussed famous civil rights activists


What Farmer’s daily routine at the college was like
Farmer’s involvement in community
How Farmer’s deteriorating health affected him
How the community/students/parents of students reacted to Farmer’s presence


Farmer’s affect on enrollment/size of his classes
How Farmer’s affect student interest in African-American history
Farmer’s objective in classroom
Farmer’s views of Malcolm X and other civil rights figures

Lay Bare the Heart
How deteriorating vision affected him


Relationship with administration
How the administration lacked structure to handle Farmer’s presence
Farmer’s title/what people called him


Her personal relationship with Farmer
Medal of Freedom
University reactions to Farmer’s retirement
UMW Today articles


Knowledge/Study of Farmer before Mary Washington
Gift to her mother from Farmer
Legacy at Mary Washington


How Farmer fit in to a predominately white school

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