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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Burgess, August 12, 1983. Interview F-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Explanations for the dissolution of the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen

Burgess offers a few explanations for why the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen dissolved. First, its leaders were national figures involved in more than one organization. Buck Kester, for example, also led the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. Second, by the 1960s, African Americans were starting to take over the movement. Third, Burgess and others never participated in direct action.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Burgess, August 12, 1983. Interview F-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

You have already touched on this a little bit but I just wanted to make sure that you don't have anything else to add to it. Why do you think that the fellowship died?
Well, you see I was away when it died. But trying to put two and two together, I felt that is a very loose fellowship, because all of us were involved in very difficult tasks of one type or another. It was a confederation of interested people rather than and organization. Second, there was not a logically successor to Nell. I don't know. I am sure that Nell was up at North Carolina up to the time that I left for India. But I am not certain about that. Maybe she was going through the transition. But there was. And to go back to Buck in a sense he was in the sorority in the thirties. I am using this in a defining way. But he was a national figure with Norman Thomas and one of the great leaders of the early days of the Southern Tennant Farmers Union. And then he went through various jobs of this and that and things didn't seem to work out at Penn Craft and other places. It was in seeds by somebody else I think you would have seen maybe a growth. Also this surmise rather than fact, in the sixties the blacks were beginning to come into their own in the sense polarized sometimes fearful of it they had to have their own act together before intergration meant very much. And in a sense the fellowship was the union of equal but we were not a movement. Nobody was sitting down at Drugstore College. Or nobody was marching on Montgomery. We were sending letters to the editor and raising hell at the nomination convention, or making individual witnesses. But it is like in many ways with the conferences of the Profetic Religion. Plus individual invisitations here and there. Between those and the correspondence and so forth started in the organization. I am saying this out of surmise, because this was not there when the disintergration really took place.