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Leonard C. Farrar – direct action against Capitol Jim Crow: 1934 | by Washington Area Spark
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Leonard C. Farrar – direct action against Capitol Jim Crow: 1934

Leonard C. Farrar is shown in a portrait photograph circa 1900.


Farrar grew up in Charleston, W. Va. and taught in the schools there from 1901-1914 after college at Ohio University and West Virginia Collegiate Institute.


After an interlude where he worked for the state of West Virginia and a railway company, he resumed teaching in 1918. In 1922, he became head of the public school in Omar in Logan County, W. Va.


With education as his vocation and passion, he went on to become president of the National Forum Association in Washington, D.C.


The group sought the establishment of an educational forum in every community. He believed that the permanent progress of African Americans must rest on patriotism, education and thrift. He is quoted as saying, "no educated, thrifty people can be long oppressed." He was an advocate of tripartite education of the head, the heart and the hands.


While in Washington, D.C. he took part in the effort to abolish Jim Crow in the U.S. Capitol restaurants in 1934.


He took part in direct action, joining one of a series of small interracial groups that sought service in the restaurants that were barring African Americans. While some groups were successful, the group of five—two African American and three white--Farrar was in was not.


Farrar also hosted a forum on the Capitol campaign where luminaries such as Charles Russell addressed an audience urging them to continue the fight.


The effort at the Capitol building was ultimately unsuccessful, but represented the first ongoing, organized use of the sit-in tactic that would later be refined and utilized to desegregate public facilities in 1960.


For a detailed blog post on the fight against Jim Crow in the U.S. Capitol restaurants, see


For more information and related images, see


The photographer is unknown. Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

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Taken circa 1900