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
- DALLAS BLANCHARD:
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?
- DAVID BURGESS:
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.