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Title: Oral History Interview with Jean Fairfax, October 15, 1983. Interview F-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Fairfax, Jean, interviewee
Interview conducted by Blanchard, Dallas A.
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 100 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-02-22, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Jean Fairfax, October 15, 1983. Interview F-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series F. Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, 1983-1985. Southern Oral History Program Collection (F-0013)
Author: Dallas A. Blanchard
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Jean Fairfax, October 15, 1983. Interview F-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series F. Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, 1983-1985. Southern Oral History Program Collection (F-0013)
Author: Jean Fairfax
Description: 95.5 Mb
Description: 22 p.
Note: Interview conducted on October 15, 1983, by Dallas A. Blanchard; recorded in Unknown.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series F. Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, 1983-1985, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Jean Fairfax, October 15, 1983.
Interview F-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Fairfax, Jean, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JEAN FAIRFAX, interviewee
    DALLAS A. BLANCHARD, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You were connected with the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen at one time right?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How did you first learn of it?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I first went South in the fall of 1942. I had never been South before. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. My first job was in Kentucky State College in Frankfort, Kentucky. Two years later I went to Tuskegee Institute, and at both institutions I was Dean of Women. I was also responsible for religious activities on both campuses, and worked very closely with the YWCA and got to know a number of the people who were involved in the Student Christian Movement in the South at that time, both students and faculty persons and counselors and so forth. It must have been through them that I became acquainted with Nelle Morton and the people of the Fellowship. But I don't really remember what year it was. It was probably in the early forties. Probably soon after I went into the South.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
As a little background, where are you from to start with?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And you were reared there?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes, I was reared in Cleveland and went to public schools there. And then I went to the University of Michigan and to Union Theological Seminary. As you know while Reinhold Neibuhr was one of the leading spirits in the formation of the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen but I don't know it I heard about it while I was at Union or not. I have a feeling I first became acquainted with the Fellowship when I first went South.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did you get a Bachelor of Divinity while you were at the Union?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
No, I got a degree in comparative religions, one of those joint degrees between Union and Columbia. (Masters degree).
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
When was that?

Page 2
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I actually got the degree in 1944, but I did my residence work in 1941-1942, and the spring of 1943.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How long were you active in the Fellowship?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Well, as I said, I am not exactly sure when I became active. But I was active until I left the South and went overseas with the American Friends Service Committee in 1946. So it was certainly over a period of three or four years.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What kind of relationship did you have with the Fellowship?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I attended their meetings. I don't know if I was actually on the board or not, but I went to many of their meetings and I knew the few persons who were in the leadership capacity in the Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Who was that?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Nelle Morton. And I am still very closely to Nelle. You would have to help me recall the names of the persons. The Presbyterian minister in Chapel Hill, and the person who was called Scotty.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Charles Jones and Scotty Cowan. Gene Smathers?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes and Hughley-not Mel-Neal Hughley and his wife.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sadie.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yeah. they always got students involved. And as I said, at that time I was actively involved in the Student Christian Movement in the South specifically in the YWCA because the YMCA was very resistant to the integration. I am sure that my memory of my work with the Y and the Fellowship overlap, so I couldn't tell you half of the time whether I was with one group or the other because there were a lot of the same people involved. Ann Queen, for example.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That happened with a lot of people. What do you think were the primary goals of the Fellowship?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
To affirm the unity of the Christian fellowship in a divided society. I would say that was uppermost in the thinking and the goals. And to translate that into specific acts.

Page 3
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What acts did they engage in while you were a part of it?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I guess it was the meetings they held as much as anything. As I recall, this was before the year before the demonstrations and public acts of that kind, even to meet was a very important statement or political act at that time to meet across racial lines and to have public gatherings and so forth. There was a lot of support of individuals, I would say, in addition to making the affirmation about the true meaning of the Christian Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Where did you meet?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
You mean in what kinds of buildings and so forth?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, where could you meet?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I can't recall. I guess we were meeting in churches largely and the predominately black college campuses. My memory of these specific meetings dealt with is very vague. I would have to have my memory refreshed. I am sure someone showing me the programs, I would be able to recall them. But just off the top of my head I can't tell you where we met and what the specific topics were. Nelle got out various kinds of publications as I recall.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Who do you remember as the main people in it?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
The ones that I have mentioned to you. Nelle was the spiritual center of the Fellowship. There is no question about that. And then the people that I told you about, Charley and Scotty and the Hughleys. And there was a black man from Virginia Union. I think McKinney was his last name.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I think that true.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Is he still living do you know?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I don't know, I haven't been able to track him down.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
He was a very important and strong leader at the time.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I am making a note or two here.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I think there were several things that happened. Nelle's illness I remember it was around the 1950's when she had surgery.

Page 4
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
The late forties.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Had she already gone to teach or was she still with the Fellowship? No. I think she had resigned.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I think that was why she resigned from the Fellowship at that time.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
As I said, I was out of the country from 1946-1948 and when I came back I went to New England. From 1946 on I was not involved in the Fellowship although I kept in close touch with many of the people I had known in the Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Were you aware of any efforts to integrate churches and universities and that kind of thing in the Fellowship?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
You are talking about prior to 1946, when I was there at the time?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I am trying to recall. I am sure that when I went to the campus of the University of North Carolina it was while I was in the South. But whether I went to their campus first under the auspices of the Fellowship or the YWCA, I can't recall right now. But there were a lot of efforts to get students involved, although I don't know if there was any specific effort to integrate the institutions by pressing for students to get enrolled or not. I remember that there was a family from Austria who had a coffee shop or bake shop there. And they were one of the first institutions in Chapel Hill to open up to blacks. But whether or not that was after I came back from Austria, I don't remember. That was probably after. Because the fact that I had been in Austria made me be interested in meeting them after I had gotten back. I doubt whether there were targeted efforts to desegregate institutions. As I said meetings, merely to find a place to meet. But I recall too some very funny experiences we had when we were traveling together. One time we were going either from Chapel Hill to Richmond or Richmond back to Chapel Hill and I can't recall why we were

Page 5
going in one direction or the other. At that time trains were totally segregated, the white member and I remember particularly Nelle got on the white coach and the rest just got on the black coach. But as soon as she settled down she came back to where we were. And she was moving back and forth. And the conductor was totally disorganized by her behavior. He went up to her and said "Is you a Nigger?". And she just looked at him very directly and said in her nice deep southern voice, "Well, I don't know.". And they continued to watch back and forth in the coaches. You can try to imagine what it was like at that time merely traveling together and meeting together anywhere was a political act. And another person Rosalie Oaks. I knew Rosalie in the student movement and I am sure she was in the Fellowship also.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I am going to interview her shortly, too.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Give her my regards.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I will do that. Everyone asked me to do that to everyone else.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Well, I think you are providing a very important service pulling all of us together. Have you interviewed Nelle yet?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, yes, I spent almost two days with her.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
When was that?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
In late June, early July.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
How is Nelle?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
She is doing fine. In fact she is writing a book on radical feminism.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Good for her.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
She is working with an editor and a publisher and everything.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
She has spent several Christmases with my sister in the last two years and me in Phoenix. She is really a part of my family.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Are you black? You don't sound it.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
What do you mean I don't sound it?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You are a Northern black, that explains it.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I am a National black. And I spent half of my life working in the South.

Page 6
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And survived it anyway.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Oh yes. I have very warm and beautiful memories about it. In fact I still spend a lot of time in the South. I work with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and civil rights. So I spend a lot of time in the South.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What was the reaction to World War II in the Fellowship?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I don't know if I could recall that. And here I have to separate my own position. I have been a pacifist on religious grounds since I was a sophomore, and when I went to the South I was a pacifist. If they had forced women to register, I would have been a non-register. But I really don't know how we addressed that issue in the Fellowship. I don't recall it right now.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How about the Fellowship, do you think it played any part in forming networks for the civil rights movement that came along in the fifties and the sixties?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Some of the people like Ann Queen who were active in the Fellowship were active in the integration of institutions and the civil rights movement later on. I don't know about the civil rights movement as such, because the well-spring of that movement came out of the black community and largely from young people. And I don't know if people like Martin King and some of the others even knew about the Fellowship. Because I don't know what the Fellowship was doing after I left and went overseas. I did not have any relation to the Fellowship as an organization when I went overseas. And when I got back and got into the civil rights movement in the mid-fifties I don't recall that I had any relation to the Fellowship at that time. I was the director for the Southern Civil Rights Program for the American Friends Service Committee in 1957 to 1965 when I joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. I do not recall being involved in any Fellowship activities after I got involved again in the South.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
When did you come back from Austria?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I came back at the end of 1948, and in 1949 (early 1949) I went to New

Page 7
England as the representative for the American Friends Service Committee to the colleges and universities in New England. I was not physically in the South from 1949, well, really from 1946, when I went overseas, until I began the involvement in the civil rights movement in 1957. So you see I was out for a good ten years.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did the associations you formed in the Fellowship play a part for you when you did get involved in civil rights?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
There was a different cast of characters. I quess this is what I am trying to say. Where the Fellowship had an impact on me was giving me some confidence that if you look hard enough you could find some white people in the South who were not only commited to a universal Christian fellowship but also to the expressions of that fellowship to the secular world. And this is very important to me because the civil rights struggle was a very bitter and a very dangerous one. And it was important to find white people who were at least neutral publicly and privately active supporting the movement and trying to prevent balck people from being killed, particularly the little children. So I would say the Fellowship gave me confidence to find people like that even in the world South in Mississippi, in Georgia and the other places I was working when I went back there.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What was the attitude in the Fellowship towards the New South, the urbanization, and the industrialization?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Well, you see I would not know about that. In the early forties we were talking about the South as it was and there was no discussion of the New South at that time.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How about the role of women in the Fellowship, were they accepted fully and able to contribute to it fully?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I think the fact that Nelle was the executive secretary at that time

Page 8
answers that question. I don't know that the issue was ever raised or ever a problem, I think men and women on the board, in fact I think I was on the Executive Board, although I can't recall right now.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Was there any reflection of racism in it? By whites or blacks?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
If you think about the composition of the Fellowship, to join the Fellowship people had already made up their minds about that thing. In that climate at that, time the nervous people would not have joined. I do not recall any issues that divided the Fellowship on race or the sex line. In face, I don't really recall any… recalled what Nelle said about it. She would have known that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
She said the same thing you did.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
That question would have been more of an important question to me when I got back into the South in the middle and late fifties. This is when people had never even thought about making a statement to say did nothing about publically take a stance and devoting their lives. In later years, when I went back, people had to be more publically identified and this required either people who were in the middle or to the right of the middle, of the center. Of course and there would come questions. The Fellowship was made up of people who had already made up their minds. Especially when you think of the leadership that Neibuhr and the others had given to us. They were people who were not only concerned about religion, but Neibuhr thought of this as Socialist Christians who could affirm their idea of what society should be like. In fact I am just recalling, I think this is what Neibuhr was originally active in because of his concern of both socialism and radical Christianity. He was very much interested in those.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That is true. At that time, when you were a part of it, did the major issue seem to be race or socialism and economics?

Page 9
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I don't think there was ever any discussion of socialism perse. In fact you made me think of another person who was involved and I can't think of his name. But he was actively involved in the Friends of the Earth or something like that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Friends of the Soil.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Friends of the Soil, was that it?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Francis Drake. Was that it?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes. Where is he?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Last I heard he was in England. I don't know if he is still alive.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I think there were people like that who were the forerunners in the contemporary environmental movement. They saw the concern about the land as a religious issue. So that when you talk about economics and what society should look like, it was not only the question of a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources, but a very important component of that was the human beings to the land. I think there was more of that concern than the kind of socialism that was being discussed at that time more in northern circles.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Are you familiar with the Committee of Southern Churchmen?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Is that what the Fellowship became?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
When was that? I was not a part of that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
It was in the late fifties or the early sixties.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I was not a part of that so I could not really tell you too much information about it. I can not even tell you why there was a change in that committee.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
There were several factors involved.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I was not a part of that but I maintained my personal friendship with Nelle. I don't know when I last saw Charley Jones, but I saw him a

Page 10
number of times after I left the South. But I was not really formally related to the Fellowship or this new group after 1946.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Was there a local group of the Fellowship in Tuskegee while you were there?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
No, I don't think so.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You were about the only person around there related to it, then.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
No, there were probably some other individuals. But, no, I don't think there was a local group. In fact I am not sure as I recall having chapters was an important part of the organizational style. In fact I just don't recall it.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Could you react to some names for me?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
If I could remember them.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Buck Kester?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes, All I can do is remember his name and that he was the center of some kind of controversy but I can't remember what it was.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
J.C. Herrin?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I remember the name but have no memory other than that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Charles Jones?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Oh, yes, Charles Jones.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What was he like?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
He and Nelle were very close. I am trying to recall the issue. I think it was a theological issue having to do with the Virgin Birth or something like that which got him into trouble with his church there and led him to start that new church in Chapel Hill.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That was in the fifties.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes, I must have gotten reacquainted with him when I got back from Europe to the South, visiting Nelle or Ann Queen or something. But I don't think I have seen him in a couple of decades as a matter of fact.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He is in poor health right now and I haven't been able to interview him.

Page 11
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I am trying to remember whether he became bitter about something. I don't know. This is all second hand, because I was not personally involved after I left the Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about Nelle Morton?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
She is practically a member of my family. She is a member of my family. We are very close, even though I don't see her very often and neither one of us is much of a correspondent. I am very fond of her personally, and give her only the highest respect for the leadership she gave to the Fellowship in those years and again of the leadership she gave while she was at Drew again under some very difficult circumstances.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What kind of circumstances?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I think it was hard for some of the men at Drew to accept a woman on a senior position on the faculty. And I think her concern for radical feminism in the church grew out of the experience she had in being accepted, really forced her to really do some hard thinking about how sexism is ingrained in theology and in the history of the Church.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about Myles Horton?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I never knew Myles very well. I followed the life and hard times that Highlander had for years, but I never knew him very well.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You did meet him, though?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes, though it must have been very early on. During the later years when Highlander was in trouble because he worked for Georgia's bureaus and other bureau associations. I don't think I knew him or followed what was going on very closely.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about Jim Dombrowski?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I am not so sure I have ever met him. I know who he is and I know what the controversy was. But I don't think I have ever met him.

Page 12
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
James McBride Dabbs?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Oh yes. I knew him not only through that, but also the Southern Regional Council. When I got back to the South, he was an important person on the Southern Regional Council. I guess I really got to know him then.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How would you describe him?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
In some respects a southerner of the old school. In terms of the impression he gave-as a gentleman, one very much concerned about stability and human relations and so forth, but someone who early on made some important decisions about how he was going to live and the things he was going to support.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about Howard Odum?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I didn't ever know him. I never met him.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about Gene Smathers-what was he like?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I can't tell you what he was like. He was one of the persons who was interested in the rural program as I recall. But I don't think that I can give you a personal impression of him.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Scotty Cowan?
end of side one


Page 13
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I don't remember her.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Do you remember Buck Kester's wife?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
No.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Warren Ashby?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes. Some years later Warren Ashby and a couple of people and I were involved in something that was supposed to end up in a book. This was a group of white people and black people who were asked to write something about their lives. And how they moved from where they were born and reared up into being concerned about a genuine interracial society. We spoke these great statements and they confirmed each other but it never became a book. Just recently I think I threw the thing out. I'll double check, but I think I did.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, I'm sorry.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I don't know if I have seen Warren in ten or fifteen years. Where is he? Is he still at Wake Forest?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He is still in Greensboro. I don't know if he was at Wake Forest or not. He is on the faculty in what used to be the Women's College at Greensboro, which is now the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. I have interviewed him.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I think he was Wake Forest.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He may have been. Incidentally, if you have any papers or correspondence still around related to the fellowship I would appreciate being able to copy that and send it back to you.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Well listen, I would doubt it, because I have moved several times, I have had to clean out. And there would not have been any need to keeping the Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Can you remember Arthur Churchill?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
No.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Do you know someone named James or Jim Holloway?

Page 14
JEAN FAIRFAX:
No.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Will Campbell?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Oh, yes. In fact, I saw Will a couple of months ago when I was in Nashville. I guess I really got to know Will through the Southern Regional Council. And also he was the Chaplain to the National Students Association for several years and would go to several of their annual meetings. I recall going to a couple of their annual meetings and sort of involved in some of the things he was doing. He was more or less a counselor and I was more or less sort of around the edges of it. Somehow, I don't relate Will to the years that I was in the Fellowship. I think of him more with my involvement in the Southern Regional Council.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How would you describe him?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
He is just a singular individual. There is nobody like Will. He does not fall into easily the stereotypes. I remember the eyebrows that were raised when he expressed a concern to relate the Klansmen and people like that on a religious basis and not to exclude them from his circle of persons about whom he was concerned.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Was this back in the fifties?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
No, this has been, I guess, in the sixties. The Klan was very active then trying to prevent the kids from entering the desegrated schools and that kind of thing. No, it would have been more recent. Have you interviewed him yet?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I am sure that was an interesting interview.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I am sure that I will get back with him again. He was sitting in a barber chair, spitting tobacco juice in a spitoon. He is Will.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
How is his health?

Page 15
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
His health is fine but his finances are in trouble right now.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
When he was no longer of interest to Northern…, I guess his source income dried up.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Have you read Brother to a Dragonfly?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
No.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You need to. It won the Lillian Hellman award.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes. I know.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about Benjamin Mays?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I have known Benjamin Mays since I first went South. He was very deeply involved in all kinds of religious activities involving students and others. I guess I first got to know him in that dimension either when I was at Kentucky State or Tuskegee and went to Atlanta for the meetings. And then I see him off and on over the years.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I understand that during the civil rights movement he was classified by the more activist people as an Uncle Tom. How would you evaluate that?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I never heard him refered to as an "Uncle Tom". He and Martin Luther King, Jr. were very close. In fact he even had a … at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Memorial and the Morehouse campus. I remember that very, very clearly. I think what some people were worried about was his hanging on the position as school board member and school board chairman in the Atlanta School system longer than many had felt he was able to make a contribution in the addressing in the newer issue. But I don't ever recall hearing anybody calling him an "Uncle Tom". I think that would be unfair.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Neal Hughley?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I don't remember seeing Neal after I left the South in 1946. I would hear about him through Nelle. Especially after he and his wife adopted the little boy who is probably out of graduate school by now. I have

Page 16
not been in touch with Neal for years. I have a very faint memory of him, a very positive, but faint memory of him.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
When did they first adopt a child? This is the first I have heard of that.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes, I believe they adopted a child of non-American, non-U.S. extraction. Check that. If you cold talk to Nelle again she could tell you more about that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about Sadie Hughley?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I have a picture of both of them, but I don't really remember what their positions were.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I am going to interview her in about a month. Murry Branch?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I knew Murry even before I met Nelle and got involved in the Fellowship shortly after I went South. Howard Thurman convened a meeting in North Carolina of black intellectuals. He was very much concerned with the role the black intellectual could play in the healing of society, and sort of looking forward to the period after the War would end. I met Murry at that meeting and have seen him over the years off and on.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Incidentally, he is the pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church at Montgomery now.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I have heard about that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Who else do you think I should talk to that would really understand the Fellowship?
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I think you ought to find out from some of the people you are in touch with who were some of the people who spoke out against it and refused to join, and interview them and get some idea of how the Fellowship was viewed by them.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That's a good question.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
It was really a very small group. How many people did Nelle say there was actually involved at the meetings and things who were members?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I think at the height the number of members was around 450. Between

Page 17
that and 500.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I would think that it was even a smaller number in the group.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, there were different levels of involvement.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
The people coming to the meetings. Of course as a secretary she would be moving around and would see a lot of people at their home base but who would not be able to make it to the meetings. So she would have more of an idea, who would have a scoop of it. But I am surprised that there are that many who were members or who considered themselves to be members of the Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
There was about that many who paid money to it.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Are you talking about the folks in the South?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Not the non-Southern members, the Yankees?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
No. The sympathizers. No. It amazes me that there were that many people who could hang on that long and do some of the things that they did.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
When was the Fellowship first founded?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
1934.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
And it grew out of the Fellowship of Socialist—at least some of the early people who were involved like Neibuhr had come out of the Fellowship of Socialist Christians.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That's right. Neibuhr was at the organization meeting in Monteagle, Tennessee, in 1934. They titled it then "Younger Churchmen of the South". Then around 1936 to 1937 they changed it to the Fellowship. Buck Kester was working with it at that time. Then during the forties Nelle came in and Buck left. Neibuhr—what was it, something about economics and social justice organization that he had? Anyway he dissolved that group at one time and turned over all of its assets to the fellowship.

Page 18
JEAN FAIRFAX:
He was by far the best professor I ever had.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That is what everyone says.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
And this is important for you to know because, remember, as I said I was a Christian pacifist when I went to Union. And I was at Union when war broke out. So you could imagine the split between the pacifists and the non-pacifists and yet he was a very caring and warm professor. Although on the public stand he would just rip pacifists apart. This did not imperil his personal relationship with students like myself who were active pacifists and publically against the war. In fact, I think I know there were about nine students who refused to register (theological students) and they were shipped off to Danbury, Connecticut for imprisonment. They were in prison while I was in Union. Henry Sloan Coffin, who was the President, was adamantly upset that his students would do such a thing. It was an issue that bitterly divided the seminary. But Neibuhr was a teacher and a professor to everybody. And I have always been grateful for that. His concern for the social issues and his public position against repressions of all kinds is something that made a big impression on me.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Was John Bennett there at that time? I talked with him when I talked with Nelle.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes, but he was not involved in the Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right. He was on the edges of it.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I do not recall any Northern types other than myself and people who were soldiering in the South who were involved in the Fellowship during the years that I was there. But still we were aware of their support.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well I appreciate your time.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Yes, I will be very much interested in your document or whenever it gets out.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
It will be a few years.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
If I can come across any papers, I doubt it very much, I will let you

Page 19
know. And I will certainly talk to Nelle. In fact, she probably has a much clearer memory about all of these things than I. Has she kept her papers or does she have a file on these things?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I am not sure. That was one thing I forgot to ask her while I was out there. She was talking about so many other things of interest I forgot to ask her.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
When you move around a lot you tend to clean out your files. I would think that some of her writings and some of the work of the Fellowships she continued to file.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well most of the Fellowship papers of her time are in the University of North Carolina now. In fact they have the papers from 1934-1957, when it kind of died.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Why do you think it died?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
The last thing it did was conference on human relations and race and religion in Nashville. And one of the speakers was Martin Luther King, in 1957, and after that it just sort of disappears. It just goes dormant. Largely, I think because Buck Kester left it and there was no leadership left. And I think right now at this stage of my investigation, it is kind of slow. The thirties with Buck Kester who was a very charismatic personality, very courageous, was dominating it. Then Nelle comes along in the forties and does some local organizing that did get involved with the integrating churches in Chapel Hill and Durham and Raleigh in the late forties, integrating Duke Chapel, and the University of North Carolina auditorium and that sort of thing. Nelle worked as an organizer more at the grassroots level and they did organize local fellowship groups. Then when she left, there was a quiet period when Charles Jones tried to balance two or three jobs at one time.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
In fact it is a novelty by its own survival.

Page 20
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And in the fifties Buck Kester comes back. And I think Buck was kind of lost with it at that time.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I would think, and here again I am thinking about somebody that I do not know, that it would be extremely difficult for a southern white person who had been active in the thirties and the forties to know what to do, really, in the ferment of the middle fifties and particularly in the sixties when blacks were bypassing the white leadership that had held things together during earlier period. I was active in the South from 1957 right up until now. I was at the meeting when SNCC was born and knew all of the people who were involved in SNCC and followed them the time they threw whites out of the movement and so forth. And I could see how it is very hard for people of the older generation who had given their life to it suddenly to be dumped.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right, Well the scene had shifted. Buck Kester was not an activist. In fact, he counseled moderation in the time that people started getting active. And he thought they were trying to push to far too fast. Which pushed him out of the movement.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I don't know where Scotty would have been on that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I don't know either. I haven't gotten that. I am trying to get hold of his papers now. But the movement had moved beyond the old white liberals. And even in the white radicals, which was appropriate at that time. I was at Nashville in 1960-1961 when the sit-ins took place.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Oh, you mean when Jim Lawson had the problem with Vanderbilt?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right. We were classmates at Vanderbilt.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Well for Heaven's sake.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.

Page 21
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Jim was not involved in the Fellowship was he?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, he was a member of the Fellowship in the fifties.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Well, that wouldn't have been the time when I…I knew him through many different connections and then got reacquainted with him through the World Council of Churches. I was on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches for several years.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, I am interviewing him next week.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Out in Los Angeles?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
No, he is going to be in New York for a United Methodists Board of Global Ministries meeting Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the State Hotel. And I am supposed to call him there one night.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Well give him my regards when you call him. Would you do that? Well I guess someday we ought to have a big reunion of everybody.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I think so. Everyone I have talked to has said tell everybody else hello.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
Tell Nelle to get out a, and maybe I don't know if those people would like to deal much with getting a newsletter going. But I think that one edition to everyone, saying what everyone else is doing would be very nice.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I would be glad to mail you a copy of my interviewing schedule of the addresses of everyone that I have talked to.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
I would like that very much. It is good to know who is still around and find out who directly or indirectly…
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And who is where and that sort of thing.
JEAN FAIRFAX:
And to find out where everyone is and who is ill and that sort of thing.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Will do. I appreciate your time and I will mail you a form to sign allowing me to release this by the way to the University of North Carolina library. They want to put this on file with the Fellowship

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papers. Thanks a lot.
Goodbyes.
END OF INTERVIEW