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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 >>

Buck Kester, dreamer

Burgess remembers Buck Kester. Kester was a dreamer, Burgess thinks, but also a pessimist after seeing the chance of a rural mass movement, a possibility in the 1930s, fade. Kester and his peers were more prophets than organizers, Burgess thinks. This lack of organizational talent and zeal may have contributed to the decline of the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen.

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:
Before I forget it, why did Buck say he grew up with the STFU?
DAVID BURGESS:
Well Buck was essentially was a perfectionist and he was critical of Mitchell on opposite sex. He was critical of the maybe rightfully he was also he was a profet, and once you go through the initial stage of publicity excuse me.
DALLAS BLANCHARD:
Sure.
DAVID BURGESS:
I think I learned from the labor unions is that there are people that are very good at the initial campaigning organizing, but when it comes to try to build an organization and conduct an educational program and I would say the seamingly nickel and diming without the Prophetic overrun of the old and ndew testament. You know am I in the right place at the right time? But I think Mitch who I admire very much he has a different position than I have. But Buck was essentially a dreamer in both the negitive and the positive sense of the word. And you needed somebody like that. And you needed somebody like that, but I felt there was a deep in him. I knew Alice very well. There was a deep, I wouldn't call it a bitterness, because it wasn't bitterness, it is more a sense of the world is really not going to get better, the profetic dreams of 1934 and that time of the share croppers and Norman Thomas was in Arkansas and the seaming of mass movement was beginning. Actually in point of fact, none of the leaders Buckler and Mitchell and the rest of them and Betten they weren't such great organizers themselves. But they could put up with the day to day dealing with that congressman and that congressman making a deal in the best sense of the word compromising, the way that I had to do in the whole Dellmore situation which was a political education to me because I ran it on a national basis. So I would say the difference between the profetic old testament Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, and the nitty gritty of union organizers is sometimes very unpleasant, and you are dealing with people who are very marginal folks in many ways. And so be it, that is part of life. I never felt estranged myself from these share croppers in any way. But I felt and I tell you this is surmise I was never in the field with Buck, but we had long personal conversations, and this is the reason that I am saying what I am.