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Title: Oral History Interview with Nelle Morton, June 29, 1983. Interview F-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Morton, Nelle, 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: 248 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.
2007-10-24, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Nelle Morton, June 29, 1983. Interview F-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series F. Fellowship of Southern Churchmen. Southern Oral History Program Collection (F-0034)
Author: Dallas A. Blanchard
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Nelle Morton, June 29, 1983. Interview F-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series F. Fellowship of Southern Churchmen. Southern Oral History Program Collection (F-0034)
Author: Nelle Morton
Description: 405 Mb
Description: 78 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 29, 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, 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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Interview with Nelle Morton, June 29, 1983.
Interview F-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Morton, Nelle, interviewee


Interview Participants

    NELLE MORTON, interviewee
    DALLAS A. BLANCHARD, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
NELLE MORTON:
And anyway, from then on, I was very closely related to the Fellowship of T. L. . . . I went in as executive in '44.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You didn't work with it officially? I mean, weren't you an official secretary of it, or something? Prior to 44?
NELLE MORTON:
I was official secretary beginning in '44 through . . . 44 to 50, actually. And I left the Fellowship, primarily . . . I had been 13 years, no I hadn't been 13 years either, that's seven years, I guess, with the Presbyterians, traveling over the Southern states. The Fellowship was an area . . . it wasn't just local. And certainly I had to have these two operations, and one was malignant. It was a frightening kind of thing, because I realized. . . .if I had to stop work, you know, I had no community to reach down, so I just felt I had to do something, or get into something that was . . . or that I could, you know, live with, constantly.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sure.
NELLE MORTON:
I mean, Chapel Hill is still a pretty transient . . . people coming . . . and my father had a farm, my mother was not living . . . so I went back there, and I began to be involved in community action, organizing community clubs, and the Bookmobile that went back from the library to some of the mountains and rural communities, and we got electricity and water out to the country . . . I lived ten miles out in the country and I was on the committee . . . the Democratic committee of the country and I got so involved there that when Drew asked me, I didn't even want to leave.

Page 2
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
But you did, anyway.
NELLE MORTON:
But I did, and I'm glad I did.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What was the significance of the Fellowship. What was it really trying to do?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I think, as I saw it . . . (and there's no theory in application here) it's [unclear] that I've ever known. That it . . . that was dynamic, in its theory and action, I mean, there was no separation there. But primarily, I think, it was trying to take the . . . its faith seriously, and it was one of the three groups that I mentioned earlier that finally was very much concerned to work through the churches, and pushed the churches to a more radical stand. And of course that was the time, that was before, that was when we had segregation . . . ah, by law.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes,
NELLE MORTON:
And the church, it seemed to most of us, was dragging its feet pretty much.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
At that time, in many of the churches, you were a radical liberal if you were for segregation instead of slavery.
NELLE MORTON:
I think there were . . . I think there were individual churches that were, and when I came into the Fellowship, a whole community seemed to be, you know, a part of it.
We saw the major membership in terms of a community of people like Gene Smathers in Big Lick, Tennessee and Sam Franklin and Gene . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Gene Cox?

Page 3
NELLE MORTON:
Oh yes, Gene was very active. That whole Delta ministry there. Well I think a great deal also centered in . . . ah . . . Bob Metcalf and a group around Pleasant Hill . . . he was, he was, and Marshall Young, who is now a doctor in Chatanooga, and he is the husband of Phemie Young, Euphemia [Gordon] Young, who was the first one to introduce me to the Fellowship. And they set up a cooperative medical service for the entire county in that area of Crossville, Tennessee.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Was Clarence Jordan . . . ?
NELLE MORTON:
Clarence was another one, I mean we just thought of all of Ameri . . . I mean all of Koinonia Farms as a part of . . . and that, you know, one . . . 099 dream of [unclear] and Howard and Cowan, was to have a seminary in the corn field, and I think the nearest we came to that was after I came in . . . Liston Pope who was Dean at Yale then, was very much interested in what the Fellowship was doing. He had already published his Millhands and Preachers, and we worked out with Liston Pope a service in action — training in action — for students that Liston gave credit for, and we placed a student in, . . . I know we did Big Lick one time, one summer, to work closely with Gene Smathers, to read the material in the area . . . ah, they had to do a lot of academic work, you know, as well as live in, and through, and a part of the community. We had one boy with Clarence in Americus, Georgia, one at Delta, well anyway there were several . . . There was one, and I've forgotten who he was with, in some, well, with some country minister in North Carolina (I've forgotten who that was) but that's the nearest that ever came to a seminary in the cornfield because this . . . the students . . . weren't just observing. I mean they

Page 4
were doing, in Big Lick for instance, really plowing and all sorts of things in the community.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Community activities, I suppose.
NELLE MORTON:
Ah, yup.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
As you look back on it, did the goals of the community change during its lifetime at all?
NELLE MORTON:
Did what?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did the goals . . . of the Fellowship . . . change . . . in time . . . ?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh, well I think they changed in the sense that ah . . . that we were sensitive to the changes in the . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes
NELLE MORTON:
In the social and political life of the whole area, and I think they did, a great deal.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
In what ways?
NELLE MORTON:
I think it was a different, . . . I see a different kind of direction during the time I was in, from the time Buck had it. Buck had it earlier . . . and I don't think I could possibly have done what I did without Buck . . . where that kind of thing that Buck did, but I'm not as sure that Buck was as aware of what happened during those years when he came back in the second time. I think already Buck began to try to pick up exactly the way he did earlier . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Where he left off earlier . . .
NELLE MORTON:
And I think that he was not . . . and this is when he just felt he couldn't understand it . . . he had a very hard time in understanding why people didn't stick by him.

Page 5
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What were the differences between that early period, and the period you had it?
NELLE MORTON:
You say, what were the differences?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I think when Buck had it, I think Buck and Scotty Cowan, and a few others . . . just a small little group that was making very clear the theological and social intermeshing . . . not application but intermeshing . . . and that was . . . what they did during that time is just the most thrilling thing in the world, if you really can spell that out . . . that I think when I came in, and I was already aware of this as a member, that there were a number of Buck Kesters in there, and they needed to have the opportunity to do the kind of thing in their community that this group had done . . . in other words, then, instead of my going in to a hot spot when some trouble began to arise, why I tried to get the Fellowship members in the area . . . or keep people in the area who became a part of the movement. I saw it turning into a genuine Fellowship in that period when . . . I mean you can get . . . when you talk to a person like Dave Burgess, I mean Dave was just . . . he was just one of the most valuable persons in that sort of thing.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Where was he then?
NELLE MORTON:
Dave was . . . at first was with the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, and then he went with the CIO, and he was one of the persons who kept our feet to the fire on labor . . . Dave and John Ramsey . . . who was with the national CIO there . . . and both of them brought in as real supports, Victor, . . . Victor Reuther and . . . what is his brother's name . . .

Page 6
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Walter.
NELLE MORTON:
Walter Reuther. Walter and Victor Reuther. And also I think they were responsible for the kind of cooperation we had with Willard Uphaus, the Religion and Labor Foundation.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Then, when Kester came back, . . . what was it, 1950?
NELLE MORTON:
Kester . . . ah well now, between my leaving and Kester's coming, Charles Jones who continued as pastor of the church in Chapel Hill, was doing, as a member of the Board, . . . ah was carrying on. Charles never, never spent full with the Fellowship, as the rest of us did, but he was pulling it together . . . at least as a figurehead during that period. By the way, why did Charles decline to see you?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
His wife said he'd been sick for a year, and I'd talked with . . . who was it . . . Charles McCoy, on the phone the other day and he asked me the same questions, if I'd been able to get hold of Charles Jones . . . and he said that Charles had had an allergic reaction to some medication or something and apparently he doesn't know where he is.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, Charles has been getting his stories very crooked for a long time. I mean, I don't mean that the way it sounds, but he was having trouble you know, making connections, and I have the feeling there were two or three things in . . . what was his name . . . Warren Ashby's book on Dr. Frank Graham that were absolutely mistakes . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, really?
NELLE MORTON:
That I, uh, . . . but it's hard for any of us to remember that long, that far back, and I hope that I'm going to give you checks because you just don't know what you could have imagined in the meantime.

Page 7
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sure . . . history reconstructs itself.
NELLE MORTON:
That's right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What kind of mistakes do you think there were?
NELLE MORTON:
I'm sorry?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What kind of mistakes were in Ashby's book?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh, well I think one was . . . it wasn't really a great error . . . but one was the mistake in terms of . . . of course he was trying to play up Dr. Frank.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sure.
NELLE MORTON:
Dr. Frank's relation to the coming in as a student of Kei Kenada is apt to be some error, a Japanese American who was . . . ah . . . it was right at the time when things were very tense, and I was one of the persons even before Candis (?) in Chapel Hill, . . . I was one of the persons who got Kei and her sister out of Relocation Center . . . one of them, . . . Grace . . . lived with me a year and Kei lived with Henry Mack who was teaching at the training school in Richmond, and then after I went to Chapel Hill they then began to bring Kei down there, and so finally all Kei needed to go to college and so you know the whole story of how Kei came to be, you know, in school there was just thrilling because the Junior Highs in the church had a lot to do with that . . . it was just a beautiful story, but in short, I went to Dr. Frank and he is a great . . . believer of going through the channels. He said just let her make application as any student and they will have to face this issue then . . . and so, they . . . she made application and they sent Dr. Frank a copy of their answer to Kei saying that if she had all the qualifications they would accept her but that there's no place for her to live, and this was kind of closing the issue, you know.

Page 8
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sure.
NELLE MORTON:
And Dr. Frank came down and said . . . brought the letter down . . . to the church, . . . I had an office in the church then . . . brought the letter down to the church and said, "Will you tell those kids, the Jr. Highs in the church, if they will find a place for Kei to live, then evidently that will clear it up . . . the reason they're giving. Try that. So these kids found a home for Kei . . . it was just wonderful the way they met her and everything . . . prepared everything. But then the Admissions Committee, even though they had no comeback to that . . . well, evidently Warren had gotten the story that Dr. Frank had just bucked the whole shootin' match . . . and said that we'll have her. Well he didn't do that. And you see, it would have missed all the educational kind of thing . . . different things they say he said . . . and he had demonstrated it . . . the same kind of fair . . . in relation to when Dr. Maynard concerted with Chapel Hill . . . ah . . . Dorothy Maynor was married to Shelby Rooks, a Christian minister in New York, and at this time Dorothy was just at her tops in Metropolitan Opera, and Shelby Rooks was, at that year, Chairman of a committee in New York to raise money for the Fellowship, and some of us went up every year to talk with him . . . and so finally he told me, one day he said, "I'll give you Dorothy for a concert, if you'll give us Dr. Frank." So I said, well we'll see. And so we began to work on it. The Fellowship has never had anything, and never while I was there, and I'm sure it must

Page 9
have been segregated before . . . never had a meeting, never had anything anywhere that was segregated. And so the first place we tried was Charlotte and they were so thrilled to have Dorothy Maynor there, in I've forgotten what auditorium, but then when they found that it could not be segregated they said they couldn't do it, they said the same thing happened in Atlanta. And so finally, we went to Dr. Frank and asked him what about the Fellowship, if we had it there, and he said again, the same thing . . . it would be wonderful but we had to go through the channels and let them place this. Well, the Fellowship had refused all of . . . (oh and Richmond is another one) . . . all of these other places because they had to be segregated, and we weren't about to have a concert that was segregated in any way. Bill Poteat, who teaches now (you can check this with Bill), he teaches at Duke University, ah, Bill was teaching at Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina there, he was on that committee . . . The Fellowship was having an all day executive committee meeting at Livingston College, and the Board was meeting in Chapel Hill, and we just kept breathless all day long to see as to how it would turn out. And finally, at 4:00 o'clock, when we were just ready to close, Bill called and said the Board has said, "Invite Dorothy Maynor. There will be no segregation."
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, I'll be . . . About what year was that?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh gracious . . . I could find out, or you could find out . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
It will be in the records.
NELLE MORTON:
Yes.

Page 10
NELLE MORTON:
But, it was just a thrilling thing. People who disapproved of integration were more anxious to hear Dorothy Maynor than they were to hold out for segregation.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sure.
. . . 344
NELLE MORTON:
It was just a beautiful experience, and of course that did a great deal to help the whole university. But this is the way Dr. Frank worked . . . and Warren has it that the Fellowship tried to compromise, and this is one thing they did not, and Dr. Frank knew it, and that's why he said let it go through the channels . . . and his method of working has done more to educate people to deal with an issue.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, and put the monkey on someone else's back, too.
NELLE MORTON:
Yes, ah ha.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sure.
NELLE MORTON:
Now, I'll tell you another connection with the university that you as a sociologist would be particularly interested in, and I don't think Warren even mentioned this. It was from the first Freedom Ride . . . have you read about that?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I wanted to talk about what happened when they came down . . . the men . . . they came down and had to serve the prison sentence.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh yes.
NELLE MORTON:
Bayard Rustin, who is still there, and you can get in touch with Bayard. After I talked with Tony Dunbar I called and Bayard said he still has this report that he made to Dr. Odum and the sociologists at the

Page 11
University of North Carolina, and a number of other people he had gathered together in the university. Bayard Rustin kept a (being a sociologist himself) careful record of how the conditions were within the prison . . . and every angle, almost, he came out of that when they had finished the prison terms. Bayard came directly to Chapel Hill with his report . . . and called Dr. Odum who was head of the Sociology Department then, and he got all of the people together to hear Bayard's report. It was so well done, and so thrilling, and Bayard had made three recommendations: One was that the prisoners must not be put on the road again, that they must find another way of doing that; and the second was that every effort to rehabilitate prisoners should be made, and I forgot what the third was, but it was so beautifully done, so carefully done. Dr. Odum, in person, took this to the Governor of North Carolina. It was a number of years, and after I had left the Fellowship I had word that the last of these had been carried out. But it's that kind of careful thing that I think we were careful to go through channels, too, and Dr. Odum was very supportive of the Fellowship and so was Lee Brooks.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
In my reading of the account of that ride itself . . . when I read in the Fellowship Papers about the Freedom Ride, and what happened when they got to Chapel Hill, and how Charles Jones saved them from the mob and all, there was the indication that Charles had trouble in his church over this, was that true?
NELLE MORTON:
Ah, well, the thing that happened was, ah, while Charles was doing that we had decided that was Charles' job, to bring them back to Chapel Hill, and we called a meeting.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

Page 12
[text missing]
NELLE MORTON:
So we finally, we picked up the pieces but finally, we did not cooperate, I mean we did not sponsor the ride itself, but we were the only ones I guess that had any contact with them after they were released. We followed that through to the very end as best we could, through Bayard's report, but I knew George then, called me over long distance and wanted the photographers there at Raleigh where the train came in with them . . . and even then, when they started serving their prison term, even then we saw the possibility of various churches over North Carolina, sending people, even though it might mean a prison term and here it would just be blocked, if, the people in the churches knew you, if it hit the headlines . . . and we didn't do that, and as a result, all kinds of people began sending things in for the prisoners, which involved many churches over North Carolina in supporting the prisoners who were serving just to put segregation itself . . . and in one case . . . well, I don't know how many cases . . . some of the fifty youth who walked alongside on the road then when they were working. You see, this couldn't have happened, and this is why I think the Fellowship has done more to create a climate for the Civil Rights than almost . . . we had the same thing happen . . . we had an interracial, intercollegiate, council organized in Greensboro. They had been integrating churches, been going into eating places, in doing riding, in just, just, . . . just getting people used to seeing blacks and whites together. And I'm sure that the sit-in in Greensboro would never have been able to be pulled off you know, if there hadn't been all of this groundwork done

Page 13
for months, and even years in Greensboro in organizing. And we felt very much that sort of thing was very important . . . the method of working . . . And we could have gotten all kinds of money and made a big splash.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You would have had trouble getting things done . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Well, yes, maybe so.
[Recorder is turned off and then back on.] There, that works fine.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You mentioned several things that were on the Agenda at Fellowship, ah, Labor, Rural work, Race, . . . were there other . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Well, every year, you see, at the Executive Committee, we examined itself and the whole situation . . . this is why constantly we were changing and dropping some things and pick . . . and this was the time when all over the South when small farmers were losing their . . . farms to loan sharks, also giving up their farms when these industries were coming in, to get people, and people were just leaving farms, and also that the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union . . . now I was not too closely associated with that . . . because that had already gone over the humps, so to speak . . . there were other issues and it was, and we supported labor, organizing, anywhere or that there was any problem, and that we tried to gather churches in areas where labor was trying to organize to interpret the whole meaning of labor organization. So the churches would support labor and this was the time when people like Hunt in Texas was giving big sums of money through industry to set up the offshoot evangelist tent meetings in areas where labor was organized, to preach anti-semitic, anti-labor, anti-race gospel. And I know the biggest one

Page 14
was Parson Jack Johnson who was an evangelist who was available for that sort of thing, and would move his tent to different places of the South, and of course a lot of Northern industries were coming in because of cheap labor, and they needed to be organized desperately.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Where did the Fellowship stand on Industrialization of the South?
NELLE MORTON:
Stand on what?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Industrialization of the South.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, as far as I remember, there wasn't any particular opposition to it; it was the way it was done and the way so many came in, because they thought they could come in without labor organizing, and you see I grew up in Kingsport [Tennessee], it was planned, it was planned from the beginning to bring in certain industries there. They had the resources examined chemically to see what industries would, and industries were invited in, and all of these were promised they could get by without organizing, and the one person who held out and just didn't pay any attention to J. Fred Johnson who was then president of the Improvement Company who was against labor organizing, was Palmer, ah, what was his name . . . E.W. Palmer, who headed the Kingsport Press. . .and he finally said he just couldn't possibly take the initiative to make decisions for so many people . . . the welfare of so many people.
[text missing]
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How do you explain the Southern working person's resistance to unions?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh! Lord have mercy! I think they have been so indoctrinated. When I grew up in Kingsport, before Eastman was there, George Eastman was brought to the public schools, he was brought to Sunday Schools, and introduced as a man, coming in there, to set up an industry to bring

Page 15
people down out of the mountains, to give them good wages for the first time, a decent place to live, and Johnson, who was head of the Improvement Company would take off his glasses, and tears would come into his eyes, you know, because all these wonderful people were coming there to build up our community, and there is a could all over Kingsport, you can't out loud, you know, say very much about this because it has been built into children all the way along. And when I went to Chapel Hill, even Odum and Brooks of the Sociology Department were pointing out this ideal city of industry that was building up by intention from the beginning. But I would have never known—I never would have gotten underneath this—I didn't understand what was happening, but I never would have gotten underneath this if I hadn't taught in the public schools there. And then in the case . . . you go back in some of these homes, and it was another shock to me to see how these good wages were nothing . . . how the homes a good place to live . . . it was just horrible . . . in so many of these all the houses were alike, the shrubbery planted in the same place, the houses painted just the same way, and it was just . . . it was a shock that I didn't understand until a long time afterwards. But now I think I'm beginning to realize how things way back are making sense, and building up with picture, a commitment to something . . . well, you come, your experience has made you what you are, is what I'm trying to say, has done an awful lot to . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Recent experiences have helped to interpret those long time ago experiences.

Page 16
NELLE MORTON:
Well they begin to bring them up, you know, and things make sense now that happened a long time ago you didn't understand at all. My work with the Fellowship was the most . . . probably the most satisfying . . . I am in the church . . . I . . . I . . . the Fellowship kept me in the church, I would have left the church then if I hadn't, because I was having so many problems within the Presbyterian Church both, um, peace, and race, and labor particularly.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Were there any internal dissensions within the Fellowship?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I was not aware of them when I was there, and I was not aware of them when I was a member, ah, I don't know what . . . I know when Buck came in again, when we had bought this property at Swannanoa, and a beautiful thing that had happened was Dave McVoy, a brother-in-law of Dave Burgess, who was teaching architecture at the University of Florida in Gainesville . . . Dave was just so . . . well his whole family took Fellowship, family conferences met once a year, and he involved his whole group of students, architectural students, in an experiment at Swannonoa of building and contributing, which was a beautiful little . . . a wonderful thing that . . . and it was with the idea that others would be contributing you know, as it was build up for a Fellowship headquarters and home there, ah . . . it was built with students themselves got involved in Fellowship. I mean Dave had pulled . . . I mean it was not only a practical thing, it was a philosophical thing as well, and religious. As they got in, they began to see how as things were changing and a more modern building was called for, and they built it with a lot of glass in it. A lovely building. And I know Buck had a

Page 17
great deal of difficulty with that when he came in. He said that was in the mountains, they needed log buildings, and this sort of thing, and ah, and you could build log buildings, but it was the old-fashioned way of building too, and he was very much upset, and then I know he was not happy when he felt people were not going along with him. And I had the feeling that . . . now I was not intimate with the Fellowship at that time, but I did go to Swannanoa several times and Buck was doing so much . . . 199 of the work himself, which is something I, I mean I saw a lot of people working . . . rather than, . . . and I couldn't have done it anyway. And I'm not a person who has to be in front, who has to be the invincible leader because I'm committed increasingly to the masses of people being . . . to help to be made aware and I think that I have switched completely from . . . I was just committed to the old prophetic traditions and I think I am much more now committed to an apocalyptic time . . . I think we live in an apocalyptic time . . . I think we were beginning to then, and it's not when a great leader sees and can read the signs of the times and has followers, but it's when all the people are helped to make aware of and politicized so that people work as . . . I mean when I look at this solidarity in Poland, I just think the hope of the world is the common people—and think of the nuclear freeze today, who has been the out front leader? It's been the people themselves, and I think the only things that will keep us out of nuclear war is the common people. You know, just taking hold and rising up . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I know.
NELLE MORTON:
And it's just so beautiful to me to see that beginning to happen.

Page 18
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, it is a whole interesting new kind of methodology in a lot of ways and yet it's sort of like what happened in the Civil Rights movement.
NELLE MORTON:
I'm sorry, I'm not hearing.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
It's sort of like what happened in the Civil Rights movement, like in Greensboro the students just decided that they weren't going to put up with this anymore.
NELLE MORTON:
Exactly! Exactly!
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Was there a real push in the Fellowship to try to get new members?
NELLE MORTON:
As far as I know, there was never . . . I mean there was never any big membership drive, I mean, either when Buck was in or when I was in. If I remember correctly, there was never any.
. . . 049
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, how did you get your money?
NELLE MORTON:
Ah well, that's a good question. The Field Foundation was very supportive, of course, and every year the Anti-Defamation-Southern headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League, when Alexander Miller, who became the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, when he and George Harrison were in Atlanta they come to me and said, of all the groups in the South that we are in touch with, the Fellowship inadvertently in its work is doing more work on the anti-Semitic issue than any other. We would like to contribute $100 a month to that. Then another group, ah, Francis Drake, who was in Friends of the Soil, married a very wealthy woman and he gave $1,000 every year to that. And that is why I'm sure that Friends of the Soil always was on the ragged edge—the Friends of the Soil could have been a very dynamic and

Page 19
exciting thing but Francis was wealthy more than he was . . . well he was committed but he just wasn't on the level of the Soil. But I think that was held in there for as long partly because of Francis' support. And of course he, he and . . . I've forgotten what his last name is now, they used to come to the conferences and so forth. Then there were a lot of people who contributed individually.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
The Doris Duke Foundation . . . wasn't that one that you used too? Or got money from sometimes?
NELLE MORTON:
I don't believe it gave anything while I was there. It may have. And I'm not . . . I tell you I did not have the executive ability to raise money . . . I didn't have full responsibility for raising the money. And you see, Buck did, and . . . this can take the life out of you. This was one understanding that I had, that I would not have the responsibility of raising money, and I never did. And lots of times I wondered whether I was going to get my salary, but it never missed.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Never did! Hmm. That's interesting. Do you have any idea why they were not able to get money, say around 1956, 1957 when Buck finally left?
NELLE MORTON:
Not able to raise money?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes. Is that when you left and didn't come back in . . . or . . . I . . .
NELLE MORTON:
I'm not the one to answer that . . . ah . . . I don't think I know. I'll tell you one thing . . . that if we had been able to say that we wanted money for a certain project and spell that out, it's much easier to get money that way, than it is for an ongoing program that exists for dealing with issues as they arise. And I think that's one reason . . .

Page 20
that might be one reason, but I just don't know. I wish Charles were all right . . . Charles Jones . . . because I think Charles was . . . now Warren Ashby is another person who was Treasurer for a long time, and before him, Greg Ritchie. And Greg finally went to the Midwest, and I lost touch with him.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, I'm to see Warren Ashby . . . I will see him next month. So maybe he can help me there. Who were the major decision-makers in the Fellowship?
NELLE MORTON:
I think we took very seriously . . . now I'm just talking about back when I was in . . . I think we took very seriously the Executive Committee, and I think no major decisions were made without getting in touch with every single one of those. And, of course, there were some daily decisions, and Warren was then in Chapel Hill . . . well it depended on what they were that you go to different people to get their opinion of what . . . and Warren was in Chapel Hill, Charles Jones was in Chapel Hill, J.C. Herrin was in Chapel Hill, Bill Poteat was in Durham, and Bill was sort of on the ragged edge, but he was always available. Dr. Frank was not an open . . . you know I don't think he ever went to a conference but he was extremely supportive and was always available with what is best to do. He was always willing to give his opinion. Now I think those were people when we had to know something right away . . . but basic long-term decisions I think all the members of the Executive Committee were involved. Neal Hughley, who is not living now, . . . by the way, Sadie Hughley ought to be on your list . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sadie Hughley?

Page 21
NELLE MORTON:
Sadie Hughley . . . she . . . I think she's retired now, but they both taught and she was librarian at the . . . what is it . . . at North Carolina State . . . at North Carolina . . . no wait, it was the black college in North Carolina and Neil was a professor of sociology. Neil was just . . . he was just there all the time . . . he was remarkable, he had a brilliant mind, he had a sense of how to move, and how you could move, what was best to wait awhile, just remarkable. Sheldon Smith and Waldo Beech of Duke were there if, you know, if you wanted anything. There were just a lot of people . . . Benny Mays was another one who . . . and by the way, Melvin Watson ought to be on your list . . . he's been a professor at Morehouse, and there's another person, and I cannot think of his name, but he was very active in . . . from Morehouse . . . very active in Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, I'm going to see Ben Mays . . .
NELLE MORTON:
I know you are, but you ought to see Mel . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

Page 22
NELLE MORTON:
I know you are, but you ought to see Mel . . . he could be called on to give, you know, his opinion about anything, but he was there and was very busy and very much involved in his own and we were involved with him in this . . . you see he did the suit against the Pullman Company . . . segregation against the Pullman Company and we were very supportive of that in working through . . . in breaking the segregation, I mean any of us, if a mixed group would travel we would, you know, just purposely try to test this. And get by with this, . . . it's just amazing how if you just keep on, and keep on, you wear down a lot of these things. But if we had blazoned over the overhead lines what we had done and had photographs, I mean we would have been closed up long ago. And I think this is the kind of thing that made . . . that increased the membership.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How did that increase the membership?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I think that people who would see that, or maybe be a part of that, and as one woman who went to the . . . oh she was just very adamant about the breaking segregation for Dorothy Maynor but suddenly she wanted to hear Dorothy Maynor sing, and she went there and she said she was just the most wonderful thing in the world, she said, there were some black people who sat behind me who had traveled all over the world, and I haven't. And so and so around . . . and it ought to be like that

Page 23
all the time . . . that kind of thing is when you begin to see the positive aspects of this and the sensible thing, and the only just thing . . . that other people want to be a part of it.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How was it that . . . there's something else I want to ask first since you brought up the subject. Let me skip to another point.
You say it was integrated from the start . . . there was never any segregation . . .
NELLE MORTON:
I'm sorry?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You say there was never any segregation in the Fellowship.
NELLE MORTON:
In any meeting we ever had.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Were the blacks in on the very organization of the Fellowship, or do you . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Now, that I do not know. But they were certainly in when I went in. You know I never thought about that question and that's a very important one. I'm pretty sure that Benny Mays was in that meeting at Monteagle that first meeting, of the organizing meeting when the . . . Reinhold Niebuhr came down and they sat up all night hammering out . . . yes, I'm sure, and Herb King I'm sure was in that. Herb was . . . oh he was working with the National YMCA, and he went later to teach at . . . oh what is that Presbyterian school up near Chicago [McCormick Seminary] . . . but he's not living now . . . but he was black.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well the group seemed to be, when I look at the Executive Committee through the years, it seemed to be dominated by whites . . . would you say that's true or did blacks have a real strong active role?

Page 24
NELLE MORTON:
Oh, I think there's no question about that. I don't think there's any question about that. Now Neal Hughley was on the Executive Committee all the time. I think the blacks were supportive of this because it was the one group they felt utterly confident in. And I don't think it was ever a . . . and we had when we set up in Chapel Hill when we had a public office building, we had a black secretary and a white secretary, and going to the same bathroom. I mean it was the first time they'd ever had that. We had as many black people come in to that office as white.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Why did you move out of the church?
NELLE MORTON:
I think partly . . . well I think partly because of me. Because the church people just expected me to work full time.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, for the church?
NELLE MORTON:
For the church. You see, I started there as the Fellowship didn't have enough money to pay me, so I worked part time on the church, and part time the Fellowship paid me . . . just part . . . I've forgotten just how much it was, but it was a very low salary at that, and then the church provided an office space and . . . but constantly people were coming in all the time just demanding . . . you cannot work just part time in the local church.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That's true.
NELLE MORTON:
Unless you got up and walked out. But when my office was there . . . the Fellowship office . . . I was there, and so I think that is one of the reasons . . . and then, more money was coming in that time, and I simply felt it was very important to be in . . . you know to make this public witness . . . in a public office building.

Page 25
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about the role of women? Were women active in the Fellowship?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, yes, it seemed to me that they were.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did any woman ever serve on the Executive Committee?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh yes, there were a number of women on the Executive Committee. Ah, my goodness, who were they? Uh, well I know Flemmie Kittrell was one at one time . . . she was a professor at Howard, Sadie Hughley was another, Oh Phemie Young was another.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, what I'm getting at is . . . I had a feeling . . . I never knew Buck Kester at all, but I had a feeling he was very traditional in the way he viewed females. And women's roles, and that sort of thing.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I, at that time, was not as much aware as I am now.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
None of us were.
NELLE MORTON:
Yes. But I am very much into the Woman's Movement now. And I began . . . an interesting thing about . . . several people have asked me why . . . how a nice, Southern, quaint woman like me ever got so deeply involved in race and labor, and so forth. Benjamin Mays, I remember, asked me that twice. He said, I can tell you why . . . she's a woman. And I did not know what he meant then. And I think I know now much more what he meant than he does. But I just remember that so well. I wonder what does he mean? Because she's a woman. and I just . . . I've been aware, I think all my life of being discriminated against, but, you see, women were never quite sure whether the discrimination was because you're really not quite good enough or whether you are discriminated against. And so, therefore, we have been so indoctrinated not to fight for ourselves because it might turn up we were worse than we think we are. [Laughter]

Page 26
And I think this . . . I think women have been part of bringing on the discrimination, just for this reason. And I never was quite sure, until now, how committed I was to the methodology that I used in the Fellowship, and that I taught at Drew. At the time, it was in the Fellowship, I didn't know whether . . . quite whether . . . I just don't like to be, you know, the one always up front and that I'm afraid to be, but now I see it was such a deep commitment that, uh, uh, well I think it's run our way through my life.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, looking back on it, do you feel that there was discrimination against women in the Fellowship? Or not?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I know Scotty Cowan used to say, he used to say, "Girl," and I would be so mad now, I didn't see he meant anything by it . . . he'd say, "Girl, I tell you, I never had a woman boss before, and I don't like the idea," he said, "I just have to admit, it really is working out." He said that to me a dozen times, and I've always felt, yeah, you are . . . I think I felt he was discriminating, but he was trying to own it. I think in one way, you know . . . sometimes there's a backward discrimination, if you know what I mean, there's some people in the race issue who are in a kind of reverse prejudice . . . they overdo the thing, and black can sense that right away. Well, I think I have always had the feelings that the Executive Committee was very careful about me, protecting me to do the thing that I could do. And I just have a sneaking suspicion that there were times when they made up the money themselves for salary. Because I didn't see how, and it was worrying me

Page 27
. . . 166 because I was helping to take care of my father then. And for ah . . . as I say, I never missed while I was with them, I never missed a salary. And I'm sure that there was some discrimination . . . I think they felt that anybody who would take a job like that just needed all the support they could get. And I had that feeling. I never had the feeling that there was . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
They weren't putting you down because you were a woman?
NELLE MORTON:
I, I, it may be the only place I've ever been . . . and I'm not sure they would offer a man the kind of salary they offered me. But I took it. And that may have been discrimination. And I'm sure there was, because there was . . . I think I was . . . I guess I was so much concerned about discrimination in economic areas of so many people in race, you know, that I wasn't as aware, but I'm sure it was there.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
When did Friends of the Soil get organized?
NELLE MORTON:
Sorry?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
When did Friends of the Soil get organized?
NELLE MORTON:
It was already organized when I went in. And at first I think everybody was excited about it . . . and it did have a lot . . . the . . . way the Holy Year was spelled out . . . it was just beautiful, and I remember doing a student program to be published for the Presbyterians even before I went in to work with the Board, that I used so much of the Friends of the Soil material. It was such a wonderful concept, but I think it never quite got off the ground. I think that some of the things that they were saying in the Friends of the Soil . . . and I haven't thought about that before . . . are some of the things women are saying now about the

Page 28
earth . . . about Mother Earth and the discrimination . . . how the discrimination against women has been the discrimination against the soil and the devastation of our environment. And it may be . . . you know I just inadvertently was caught up then, you know that would be an interesting thing to work on some time. small talk . . . coffee, time. . . . . . 220
NELLE MORTON:
Well, the kind of thing Bayard Rustin did, you know, and what it seemed to be, happened in Greensboro, and it never did bother me that somebody else got credit for that, that SNCC you know, came in and was able to do that. I don't think it would have been possible, if it hadn't been for that group that had been working for a long time—it was called a student group but a lot of the professors were involved too. And Howard Wilkinson is another person. Do you know him?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
No I don't.
NELLE MORTON:
He teaches . . . I guess he teaches sociology at Greensboro College now, and he was very active in Fellowship at one time. You know there are a lot of people on your list that I never heard of.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Really?
NELLE MORTON:
I'll give you another list . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
O.K., that's what I want.
NELLE MORTON:
What I decided to do, I have a long letter here written to Martin and then a follow-up letter after he sent me his paper, a follow-up letter to him commenting on his paper and making some criticisms on it, and also a long letter to Tony, and I had some copies made of those yesterday.

Page 29
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Thank you . . .
NELLE MORTON:
I'm a terrible typist, and I corrected the first . . . these are carbons, I corrected the first one, but I didn't correct the rest of them.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That's all right.
NELLE MORTON:
But it gives a lot of people's names in that and also repeats a lot of stuff that I may have said here now.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
One of the things that does concern me about the death of the Fellowship was that the scene was stolen by the issue of race and the economic issues fell into the background.
. . . 259
NELLE MORTON:
Oh, about that I did not know then.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You know, I mean, that the Fellowship was concerned with more than just race.
NELLE MORTON:
Yes.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And the Civil Rights movement came so strong to the fore in this country, ah, that the whole idea of reorganizing our economic life just seems to have been forgotten by a lot of people, although there are still a lot of movements out there today. The Fellowship did intertwine all of that together, in a unique way.
NELLE MORTON:
Well I think this rural was a very important part . . . when I was in it . . . well I think we re-examined every year, you know, the issues and these were the three issues that were . . . seemed to us . . . to be the most pertinent issues. Anti-semitism was added because, especially when we began to get this money, and uh, Alexander Miller and George Harrison came to all of our conferences too. They were very much concerned the

Page 30
way the Fellowship was already proving itself. When the black militants, and many of them came right out of the Fellowship . . . and when the SCLC began to organize, the Fellowship . . . the Fellowship members who had worked alongside these people . . . white Fellowship members . . . began to see that another . . . it was time for the blacks to really assert themselves, and became supporters of the blacks rather than trying to compete in any way with leadership, and that was not true in many other movements . . . or in many other organizations in many other parts of the country. Then whites just kept wanting to be the center . . . (coffee time)
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You know this reminds me of Cajun coffee.
NELLE MORTON:
[Laughter]
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You know my father was Cajun from Louisiana.
NELLE MORTON:
Oh, really, is that right?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, yes.
NELLE MORTON:
Well now just tell me. What is a Cajun?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What is a Cajun? A good question. It's something cultural first of all. From my father's statements, he used to deny being a Cajun. Even though he was born in New Iberia, La., he maintained, (and a lot of my relatives are still there) . . . we came from St. Louis, we were not Cajuns . . . And I think it's because Cajuns are mixed blood. Well they've got some Indian and some black.
NELLE MORTON:
I know they're mixed. But are they Spanish?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
No they're primarily French.
NELLE MORTON:
French . . . French and . . .

Page 31
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
They've got some Indian and some Black, in them as well.
NELLE MORTON:
and Black.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
But they wouldn't like to admit that—the black part. And I think that's why my father made it such an issue that he was not Cajun. But they're primarily people of French heritage and French culture.
NELLE MORTON:
Uh huh, uh huh.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
South Louisiana. But I remember my grandfather died when I was a year and a half old, and I remember him speaking Cajun French.
NELLE MORTON:
Is that right? Well now that's different from the French in Canada.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, yes.
NELLE MORTON:
What would make it different?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
They were just isolated for so long that it became different. Originally they were from Canada, they were put out by the British and settled in Louisiana. But back to the Fellowship, if I may. Friends of the Soil. I have the feeling Friends of the Soil was a problem, or that the Fellowship had problems with Friends of the Soil. Did they?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I don't know that it was a problem . . . a lot of people felt . . . and Charles Stalls I think is one . . . who felt that the Friends of the Soil was carried mainly because of Francis Drake, and not because basically it was not an authentic group . . . and a very important group. It would have been marvelous if it could have been developed. But I don't think anything ever happened in that . . . I think that when we talk about rural reconstruction, in that whole farming, it was really not . . . and Francis worked alongside it more than allowing that to come

Page 32
into . . . Now that's as how I remember it, and my memory is getting bad, too. [Laughter]
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, were there other groups that were organized like Friends of the Soil who were sort of on the edge of things?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, now let's see. What was this . . . there was another person . . . What was that . . . there were two or three other groups that kept corresponding with us . . . and not in relation to Fellowship but . . . but . . . gracious . . . and I was so long . . . and one of them came . . . and when I was in Montreat came up and spoke with me . . . what was his name . . . Yes, there were at least two other groups that were trying to . . . at . . . least opening the way for some kind of cooperation there and I just don't I'm not clear about what that was.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did any other groups try to use the Fellowship? Like the Communists did early on in the organization period.
NELLE MORTON:
Well now, I think Buck felt that very strongly. I don't think that was true when I was in the Fellowship. Ah, Buck had some kind of very bad experience with Communist groups or Communists . . . Nancy Neale may know something about that. I don't know. That would be the best person to answer a lot of these questions from Buck's personal stance and feelings. I don't think Nancy ever knew very much about the Fellowship itself.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
She was too young?
NELLE MORTON:
She was very young, and I don't even remember her ever coming to anything that the Fellowship had.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Hmm.

Page 33
NELLE MORTON:
Even while Buck was in . . . earlier . . . You have to get Buck, and I tell you, another person who might . . . might, give you some idea here is Dave Burgess, and I'm glad you're going to see him. Dave was just a terrific person in the Fellowship. He was one . . . I would say he was one of the decision-makers . . . he was very active . . . he took his membership seriously. Of course, there were a lot of people like that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Going back to the membership. I noticed some interesting names on the membership list in 1957: James McBride Dabbs.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, now James McBride Dabbs . . . now explain your . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, I was struck by his name being there and I wondered what his relationship was to the Fellowship . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I think he saw the Fellowship as . . . I think he was on the ragged edge of it . . . and . . . but I don't think . . . I know that after I left the Fellowship I was invited to Atlanta to a meeting of the . . . of some of the . . . now I don't know what it was but it included the executive committee. Martin Luther King was there, James McBride Dabbs was there, Benjamin Mays, Charles Jones, ah, it must have been when Charles . . . that interim period, and I've forgotten what the meeting was about . . . particularly . . . but anyway, Dabbs said this . . . the one thing that bothered me about the militant black movement . . . it had already started . . .
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

Page 34
NELLE MORTON:
and then what is his name . . . Gordon Harland who taught church history at Drew, was responsible for getting James McBride Dabbs to Drew to speak and he could not understand, he never did understand why I was not enthusiastic about it. About his coming. That he was this wonderful white person from South Carolina who could write all these wonderful things about race and the South . . . The reason I went to Drew . . . it isn't the reason I went, but Barney Anderson who was Dean of the Theological School at Drew . . . is the one who kept calling me, and calling me to come. He was a professor of the Bible at The University of North Carolina when I was there and I knew him very well and he was very much involved with the Fellowship, very much interested in what was going on and it was with this kind of undergirding that was going on . . . it wasn't just technique and it wasn't just action . . . it was something that motivated him. Well anyway, that is one of the reasons I went there, and I had turned it down, turned it down several times because I did not want to teach in the Seminary. I wasn't interested at that time in teaching religious education. And Barney said, "But you can do something in religious education that nobody else can do." Then I remembered I asked Alexander Miller one time, I said, "Tell me why you . . . we . . . don't do enough overtly on anti-semitism it seems to me in the Fellowship towards your gift of this money." And he said, "but oh, you know what I think. That the key to every southern community is the minister, the rabbi, and the priest." And you see we had Catholic

Page 35
members also and it was open to Jewish people also, there were a number of Jewish people who came and who participated in the Fellowship, and he said, "This is where I feel I have my fingers on the pulse of the South because you're clearer on issues than any other group I know." You asked a little while ago about using. I don't think . . . I don't think . . . when Jim Dombrowski was with the Southern Conference of Human Welfare, he and Buck had some kind of falling out, and I do not know what that was. And I have a sneaking idea it was over the Marxist issue. I don't think Fellowship ever, ever . . . I think the Fellowship was very much interested in Marxist analysis of an economic system but I think Fellowship was very clear about any Marxist ideology, and this is where the faith came in, that this was constantly being spelled out. I think that probably was the reason that he and Jim did not get along. I know when I came in, it bothered me a little bit when I went to meetings of the Southern Conference that Jim was so intent on letting everybody see that I was there. And that bothered me a lot because it almost gave a, a . . . that I was a part of it . . . and I did, I supported the Conference . . . but why should I be more than anybody else? It bothered me a little bit anytime that I think I might be used because of my position. But that was never, I guess never, to any extent that it became overt . . . it may have been just in my head, and it may have been something picked up earlier from . . . from Buck's relationship with Jim.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What was Myles Horton's relationship with the Fellowship?

Page 36
NELLE MORTON:
Well I think . . . this is what I think, John Bennett can give the early history of these three men because he knew all three of them very well. But I think in the end of course Niebuhr is the one who supported the Fellowship and Bennett was a great supporter of the Fellowship. Ah, Myles, I think did every kind of thing, he did labor education. And the Fellowship did some of that, and some organizing, and some working through local churches to get them cooperating with and find out what the issues were in labor, in, ah, labor organizing in a certain community. But we never did do the day-to-day kind of school thing that Myles Horton did. As far as I am concerned, I always felt supported by Myles and Jim Dombrowski both. And I'm trying to think. We worked . . . and we started doing it on our own, but finally some other group, and I don't know whether it was a church, or whether it was a council of churches, or whether it was the Southern Educational Fund which the Southern Conference turned into . . . we set up at one time in New Orleans, a training workshop over quite a period of time, with policemen when things were so tense. And it's very hazy to me, and I don't know who, I don't know who . . . I don't know who the contacts in that area were, I just don't remember the details of it, but it was a very exciting thing and of course the idea that a religious group was involved in this made the police much more open, and it was when things were getting so tense, when police were getting so frightened . . . but I wish I knew more about that . . . I'll have to go through a lot of correspondence to find that out. Another thing, if I knew, when I was with the Fellowship, what I know now, I would have been much more

Page 37
careful with correspondence and with saving things. We did file things, but we were much more concerned with what was going on then. It never once occurred to me, you know, that anyone would want to do a history of this, . . . or that it was that . . . it saved me, it saved my life . . . and we thought it was just the most wonderful thing in the world, but it never occurred to me that it would have any future historical value. That bothers me a lot now, because I think that's part of what Buck was more concerned with, about saving.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Buck apparently saved everything.
NELLE MORTON:
Everything. Because maybe Buck knew that he was breaking fresh ground. And, as I said before, Buck was a loner. Buck worked through things and thought through things that never really came into . . . beyond him . . . they got beyond him . . . and I think that has got to be recognized.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, he must have been a very charismatic person, a dynamic personality.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, he was a, he was a, . . . he looked like an Indian and he was a . . . his eyes were just penetrating, and he never seemed to get excited. And when he'd get up to talk you felt that a prophet was standing before you. Maybe he'd wait a long time, and then he would say something, and then he would stop, and then he would say something else. He was a most remarkable person. I just really . . . I think Buck died a lonely person and that bothers me a lot because I felt he really did something in starting this but I think the Fellowship had moved into another way and Buck didn't know how to gear in, and I think he did not have the support . . . he didn't feel he had the support. And that was just very sad . . . and I think Dave Burgess feels this. Very strongly. I mean,

Page 38
Buck meant an awful lot to some of us. If it hadn't been for Buck's vision, the Fellowship would never have gotten off the ground.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Someone has said, "Buck Kester killed the Fellowship."
NELLE MORTON:
Someone said what?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Buck Kester killed the Fellowship.
NELLE MORTON:
I think that could be, because I think Buck by that time . . . by the time he came back in again, I don't think Buck was aware of how the churches had moved. You know. And I think he was still a loner, and there was just no place for loners any more, and that is just very sad. And this is the one criticism I have with Martin's article . . . uh, I tried to get Howard Hopkins here who lives here on the place to have lunch with us today, but he's out of town today. But he's the one who did this definitive book on the social gospel movement, and he was the one who gave the essay to me from the church history journal. Now I startea to say something about what?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Robert Martin being wrong?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh, what was I saying before that about Buck being a loner. Isn't that funny it will come to me just in a matter of . . . now I've forgotten, but I was so disappointed that Hopkins was not going to be here. Isn't that strange.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well it started off with my saying that someone said Buck killed the Fellowship.
NELLE MORTON:
Yeah! I'll think of it in a minute.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What do you see as the difference between the Fellowship and the Committee of Southern Churchmen?

Page 39
NELLE MORTON:
Uh, uh, I'm speaking out of ignorance now . . . I don't see much direction. Let me ask you a question . . . this is not related . . . Is Will Campbell the one who used to be the Will Campbell at . . . oh goodness what was that YW Center right outside of Montreat . . . Ridgecrest . . . no not Ridgecrest . . . what did Will Campbell do before he got into . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Before the Committee of Churchmen?
NELLE MORTON:
Yes.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He was with the National Council of Churches—the Commission on Race.
NELLE MORTON:
Was he the Will Campbell who was with . . . what is this famous . . . it's right near Asheville, you know, that big YW summer . . . it isn't Ridgecrest.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I don't know. He was a Baptist minister to students at Oxford, Mississippi. At the university.
NELLE MORTON:
He's not the Will Campbell, because I think this other one was more of a sociologist.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
No, that's not Will.
NELLE MORTON:
What I know about this Will Campbell intrigues me no end; I think he's fascinating. I've read those books that were just very moving, ah, but, l've never seen any relationship with . . . and that Katallagete . . . is that the way you pronounce it?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Katallagete.
NELLE MORTON:
Oh no . . . say it again.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Katallagete.
NELLE MORTON:
Katallagete.

Page 40
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, you know, every once in a while it has a good essay in it, but it's awfully chauvinist. I just never have felt . . . I had the feeling that . . . Will . . . let's see . . . Tony . . . Tony married Will's daughter . . . Tony Dunbar.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, did he? I didn't know that.
NELLE MORTON:
Yes, and, and, that Tony Dunbar is Les Dunbar's son. Les Dunbar, when I was with the Fellowship, was head of the Southern Regional Council.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh yes.
NELLE MORTON:
In Atlanta. He is now with the Field Foundation. And the Field Foundation supported the Fellowship, and I think that money was available, and Will was the . . . it was supported . . . I don't know whether he's on the . . . it's supported by them now, but for a long time he was supporting it by the Field Foundation.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I understand that he has not been paid since September.
NELLE MORTON:
This past September?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, it was the last paycheck Will got.
NELLE MORTON:
Is that right? And it's the last one?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
But they've applied to a lot of foundations, the Ford Foundation, the Field Foundation . . . I'm not that familiar with them.
NELLE MORTON:
Well I think Will has been . . . I wouldn't question what he's been doing but I just don't think it is . . . I don't think it's continuation of the Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
In what way do you see it as chauvinist?

Page 41
NELLE MORTON:
Oh well, I don't know whether I still have that issue or not, but it's had several articles in it. One was on the feminist issue, that I think was just off-beat, completely.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Do you know anything about how Will got to take over the Fellowship?
NELLE MORTON:
That's what I want to know. I have no earthly idea. And this is why I kind of had the feeling that it came from the Field Foundation. There is a connection there, and it's possible.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That's the sort of thing I want to find out.
NELLE MORTON:
I've got to watch the time . . . because we have to go to the Dining Room at 12:30. Oh my, it's twenty to twelve.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Do you need to rest or something before lunch?
NELLE MORTON:
No, but I won't be any good if I can't have a little time after lunch. If you want to, I can give you these things to read. And you can raise any question.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That would be good.
NELLE MORTON:
That would be an interesting thing, an interesting point to prove the connection there. And how Will happened to be, probably happened to be available.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I think, but I don't know . . . I've heard indications that Will wanted to leave the National Council and then knew the Committee was just sitting there, I mean the Fellowship was just sitting there . . . and took it over and used it, you know, to get a salary base. But that I don't know. I've heard indications of that.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, Tony said that he thought that the property in Swannanoa is in the hands of the Southern Regional Council now.

Page 42
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh it is?
NELLE MORTON:
I don't know that. Dave Burgess has been trying to find out about that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, I'll see what I can find out about that. I'm wondering what did happen to the property. Is it being used?
NELLE MORTON:
Well I know that after Buck came in again that was . . . the only other time I was up there, when the World Council of Churches had their workday there.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What do you regard as the most significant single things the Fellowship did?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, they saved me . . . [Laughter] I just couldn't believe that there were that many people who felt about things like I did. It was just . . . and you automatically (this is very personal), but if a person is a member of the Fellowship, you automatically, you know, just assumed all kinds of things about them, and you were rarely wrong in it.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You assumed what?
NELLE MORTON:
Now this is connected with what I think I tried to say a while ago. That Martin was wrong . . . at one point he said that I had reported to him that I and the Hughleys and I think he included Benny Mays, and the Charles Joneses, ah, no matter when . . . where we were, or if we were in the area of one another, that we were welcome into one another's homes to stay, you know. I did not mention those people in connection with that. The one thing to me that I experienced in Fellowship, as far as I know, there was no member of the Fellowship that wasn't open . . . didn't have an open house . . . no matter where you were—both blacks and whites. And that what had begun to happen is as the public meetings were always

Page 43
integrated that automatically somehow the homes began to be, and we would have more correspondence asking, "I'm going to be in Georgia at a certain place, is there a Fellowship member, or are there Fellowship members in the area?" And then reports that came back on what happened to children in relation to that, and that was the first time the children had been in a completely integrated situation and how wonderful it was. And then, three summers, I was thinking, I just had the camp on our farm, . . . my father was living on our farm alone . . . I was thinking, I had a camp for children there for two summers, I noticed in one of the notes that it mentioned three summers that I had children . . . of the Fellowship . . . an integrated group, on the farm, my mother was not living, the house was large, we shared in all the work and all of the activities in the area, and my father was simply marveled in connection with it, and every one of those persons as far as I can remember has turned out to be such a different person because of that camping . . . that kind of experience.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did you have trouble in the local community?
NELLE MORTON:
No, and a part of that I would assume . . . my father was still living then, and this house we had on the farm, and we thought it had been in our family forever, and so we had this long connection in the county and related to so many people there. I know when I first had the children there, I asked my father, who hadn't even finished high school, whether it would be good to go to the minister of the community, a little church nearby, and to the sheriff, both of whom we knew, and tell them what we were contemplating so that if any trouble came up, they would know

Page 44
immediately and could be supportive. Well he said he didn't know, he'd have to think about it. He thought about it a few days and said, "You know, actually, these children are coming here, in a sense, as our guests, and we never run to the minister and the sheriff when we have guests here. So we just let them find it out. Well, he just couldn't have been more beautiful. The children had no more than gotten settled and we began to divide up the chores . . . switch jobs each day . . . oh, and one of the neighbors sent word in and said the threshing machine was coming to their house and they wondered if the children had ever seen a threshing machine. So papa took these children, and they climbed up the fence and watched the threshing machine which some of them had never seen. A few days later a farmer sent word that he was breaking a colt . . . and all of these children . . . I'm not sure if they were city children . . . but he said, I'm just not sure if city children have ever seen a colt broken. So papa took them there—he took them fishing, he took them different places, he was that kind, until near the end . . . the one person we were concerned about was a veteran who lived up the river from us, a few days before the children left he said he just couldn't—there wasn't anything he could do, but if I had the children next summer, that he had learned when he had gotten out of the army—he was in a veterans hospital for a long time—he had learned how to weave a basket . . . and he could teach these children how to weave . . . so, it was just that kind of experience.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That's good. Were there any poor whites, or poor blacks, related to the Fellowship?

Page 45
NELLE MORTON:
That's a good question, and an embarrassing question. Uh, that's a very embarrassing question.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I didn't mean to embarrass you.
NELLE MORTON:
No, but I . . . I'm sorry, I just hadn't thought about that before. Except that, as when you got into a place like Bay Lick when you have the feeling that people weren't members, you know individually, but maybe the whole community cooperated . . . or the Delta . . . you see, that became a different thing. They knew the Fellowship, they felt they were a part of of it, but individually I would guess some of them couldn't even read the materials.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]

Page 46
NELLE MORTON:
The same thing is true of Clarence Jordan working at Koinonia. A lot of people felt a part of it. When maybe they, individually. wouldn't be members in the technical sense . . . I think in that sense, yes . . . When we had this workcamp at Columbia that blew up . . . with headlines across the papers that we were Communists . . . I think that a lot of poor blacks worked in that alone with everybody else because they were working a credit union building, because it had been organized . . . because the loan sharks were taking so many of these farms . . . and I think they felt part of it and used the name without ever being individual members, so I think in that sense . . . and maybe that's all it could be . . . I'm not trying to rationalize or relieve my guilt here, but maybe that is all that could be expected at that point.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You did have projects to reach them?
NELLE MORTON:
I'm sorry?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You had projects to reach poor whites and poor blacks . . . you tried to relate to them . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Yes, I think it was not in that building there, it was working with . . . it wasn't a group doing this or something for . . . this was very clear in all our workcamps but it was engaging people . . . or it was working with the people . . . they were the ones who decided on the project . . . they were the ones who felt the need of it and they gave the direction and a sense for the building. So these things, maybe I'm

Page 47
misinterpreting the term but reaching in the sense that maybe I might relate it to, and related sometimes in a very intimate way, too.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did the Fellowship try to . . . what . . . reinterpret southern religion?
NELLE MORTON:
What do you mean by southern religion, because the Bible Belt . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, the fundamentalist approach. Did they try to use that in gaining a foothold in . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Now this is a good question, too, and I'm not sure that . . . uh, of course I felt that everything Fellowship did, nearly, was . . . it was aware that this was the Bible Belt, and the language we were using meant a different thing, but from . . . uh, . . . I guess in a way, yes, in the sense that the Fellowship claimed to be Bible oriented and were finding a different kind of thing, yeah, in the Bible . . . than the kind of interpretation that was . . . and I yes, I guess, it was calling into question a lot that I know Talmadge when he came up (not the present one) when he first came in, you know, he used the Bible for ulterior purposes. I think that was an effort to make clear in certain folders, because when he ran the last time, I think for Governor, he got on a bus with his New Testament, and he began to whip it out every time he sat down next to somebody, and he would show how the Bible preaches against integration and against labor and against Jews . . . everything. He used the Bible from beginning to end and I think this was . . . I guess this was reinterpreted and especially by the ministers who were in the Fellowship. An interesting thing about Charles Jones is that he never preached a sermon on race.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He didn't?

Page 48
NELLE MORTON:
It was always a broader kind of thing but he was right in the front in protests and in trying to break this so . . . it was the action . . . the sermons were something else again. It was just a very common sense sermon.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He was at the church that was right at the campus at Chapel Hill?
NELLE MORTON:
He was in the Presbyterian church when I went there.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That's First Presbyterian?
NELLE MORTON:
It was the First Presbyterian. Let's see, I've forgotten who has it now, he was one of the young people when I was in with the Presbyterian Board. I've forgotten. He's still there. And then, when . . . now I'm not clear on a lot of this. I'll tell you somebody you ought to interview . . . and I don't think you can do anything about it right now . . . but that's Dorcas . . . Dorcas Jones . . . Charles' wife knows as much about the Fellowship as Charles does.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I'm going to write her back and ask if she will talk with me when I come through.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, if she will, but, she may be unwilling to do it if Charles is still living. But if anything happens to Charles, if he has to be put in a retirement community, or if he dies, then I certainly think she . . . now she may be willing to meet you someplace and not say anything to Charles. But, I think that she would not be willing to interview you at the house with Charles. But I think that she was always behind things but she was as clear as a bell on issues and on what happened. She would be a remarkable person to interview.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
She wasn't active with the Fellowship directly?

Page 49
NELLE MORTON:
Directly she was, yes. Always there . . . always. she was always behind scenes . . . very . . . she was available anytime. She always went to the Executive Committees, uh, I think she was on the E.C. for a while but she was so unassuming, pretending not to know that she knows it all. And remembers it all.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
[Laughter] Well those are dangerous people.
NELLE MORTON:
Well I don't think a lot of women are like that today. But this is what I think Charles . . . Charles needed that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Was he forced to leave that church?
NELLE MORTON:
Now let's see what the, uh, uh, I don't know the details, but Dorcas . . . Dorcas would be the one to tell you that. All I know is that the Presbytery had brought pressure on . . . and listen, a lot of questions were raised about Charles in the First Presbyterian Church, and the Presbytery I think began to squeeze Charles into a corner. And I know, . . . I've forgotten whether he was resigning . . . he was forced to resign . . . or whether they just defrocked him, but I know before his final . . . just before he gave his final sermon, I was in Tennessee and he came up there and spent two days going over the sermon. And I knew what would happen . . . I mean . . . it wasn't . . . he just knew I would listen . . . and when he began to go over it he had to take all the hurt feelings out and by the time he had worked it over two or three times it was just so powerful a sermon with all of the self defense out of it. It was just placed squarely on what the gospel was, so to speak. And the gospel wasn't the favorite subject some of these old Presbyterians believed it was. And of course the result was Charles just resigned

Page 50
. . . and I don't know whether he resigned or was pushed out. He then . . . let's see, I've forgotten what happened to him then . . . I'm not sure whether the community church was formed soon because a lot of people got out of the church when Charles left, and because of the issues . . . it may have been because of Charles, but they put it on the issues, . . . Dr. Frank Graham stayed by . . . you know he's still a member of the First Presbyterian Church, but he was very outspoken, he was so supportive all the way through of Charles, but anyway, when they tried to get Charles to come back in, to become pastor of the church, he kept refusing . . . but I think he did go back for a while as pastor of this community church, and then others. Other ministries that followed that. Interestingly enough, the last Village Voice has Nat Hentoff, has written, (you may have this . . . I don't want it.) Bill Finlater was active in the Fellowship at one time and it happens they mention the community church in Chapel Hill . . . you can check it over. But Nat Hentoff is Jewish, you know. I just think it was interesting that he picked up on Finlater. Finlater has been very active in the Southeners for Justice . . . it's the economic . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Economic and Racial Justice?
NELLE MORTON:
That may have been it, but anyway it was headed by Jim Sessions for a while . . . he's gone back now . . . he was a student of mine at Drew, incidentally. He's a Methodist minister . . . he's gone back to the mountain ministry. But as I began to see it, that group was nearer a continuation of the Fellowship than any group I know now.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What kind of person was Scotty Cowan?

Page 51
NELLE MORTON:
Perfectly fascinating. Loud and Scottish, and you didn't work with him long until you knew he was a United Mine Worker and all out for labor and always on the right issues. He was a pastor in Berea, Kentucky. You know his wife just finally . . . it became a complete and almost senile and when she was far too young, and you asked me about the discrimination. I know Scotty was hard to live with and such a chauvinist but you were so fascinated by him . . . but I wouldn't live two days with him. But he was . . . he was really just so good on issues . . . just beautiful . . . with that burr coming out and you knew it and you knew he was in earnest, and you knew it was coming from the depths of his commitment.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about Gene Smathers? What was he like?
NELLE MORTON:
Gene was a quiet person and was a . . . and I think got by with an awful lot in big league communities. Just because of his deep contact with people and his day-in to day-out where he organized the whole community into cooperatives—farm cooperatives there. And it was part of the spiritual life of the whole community. He was partly responsible for setting up two work camps . . . one of them blew up . . . but they already had a lot done so it could easily be finished . . . the other one was in connection with Metcalf who was a doctor in the area . . . it was a student work camp that had to do with inoculating mountain people in the area, and it was just wonderful . . . it worked all the way through. But Gene was back of all of that and I think was responsible for Metcalf and Marshall Young setting up this cooperative clinic in Crossville. But it's that kind of thing . . . you don't know where to draw the line

Page 52
between what is Fellowship and what isn't. And both Metcalf and Young were very active in Fellowship. Always bringing their families together, which was an important part of the year's work.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well Gene Smathers was a Presbyterian minister, too.
NELLE MORTON:
And was made moderator of the Northern . . . he was a member of the Northern Presbyterian Church. And was made moderator of the Northern Presbyterian Church. And partly because of a kind of . . . I think . . . a kind of award for the wonderful grass roots work he had done . . . But Gene, . . . I think again, Gene was kind of lost in this because the moderator has to travel everywhere and make speeches . . . well Gene is not a dynamic speaker . . . he is wonderful to sit down with and tell his story and I just think that was almost more than Gene could deal with, to do that kind of thing, . . . to begin to see this larger organization over the years when he had been doing this grass roots stuff. And he isn't the first one that has . . . that has . . . that they tried to award for something that was out of his range . . . The second one I can think of is a Mr. Dean . . . a black man from Columbia, North Carolina. Now he is the one, who with his group has set up, he organized the credit union first, and he's the one who asked for the work camp there, and so forth. When Robert . . . it isn't Robert . . . Lee Brooks, who was the assistant professor of sociology at The University of North Carolina, he began to see what Dean was doing, he just insisted, you know, that the UCC Church, which was the Congregational Church then, and then using the American Mission Funds . . . he insisted that Dean be made, be employed to cover North Carolina. I just fought that like everything, and Lee

Page 53
couldn't hear me because he thought that I was saying that Dean couldn't do the work. And what it was I was saying . . . I mean I knew Dean so well and had worked so intimately with him . . . Dean was just beautiful in this local situation and in working with these credit union people, and really making it impossible for these loan sharks to keep creeping in. He was lost when he was put over this, and he didn't know what to do, and pretty soon his mind began to go. He finally had to give up his work because he just was simply . . . I mean his mind . . . his mind just left him. I mean it was more than . . . he just was not acclimated to that kind of thing. And I think, you see, I think Gene Smathers died of cancer and I'm just sure it developed when he was lost in this huge administrative thing, when they really weren't dealing with the issues down where he was concerned with. It's a sad thing, isn't it? It reminds me . . . I worked when I was in Bristol, when I was on the farm . . . I worked with mentally retarded children and I discovered that was so true of the Mongoloid children that you would help train these children for doing a job, and they could hold the job, and the overseer would then . . . the superintendent, would see that he or she was so good that they would try to advance them. And it was just, just . . .
NELLE MORTON:
The Peter Principle.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, Is that right? Yes, I guess it is. Right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
May I take a picture or two?
NELLE MORTON:
Hmm?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
May I take a couple of pictures?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh. I don't mind.

Page 54
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, there's going to be a flash.
NELLE MORTON:
I don't know what you want me to do.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Just talk to me. I'll take so many you won't be self-conscious.
NELLE MORTON:
Do you know who Lillian Smith was?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh yes.
NELLE MORTON:
Lillian Smith, you know, was a member of the Fellowship. Very attractive.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, I just finished reading her autobiography.
NELLE MORTON:
Which one? Oh, autobiography. Was it the Journey?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
The one about growing up in a southern town.
NELLE MORTON:
What was the name of it.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Now I've got some problems forgetting things.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, anyway, the person who collected these, Michelle Clift, and published these, was working with Norton at the time and she was down here recently, but she is a writer herself. She's Jamaican. And she's doing more work on Lillian Smith too. Incidentally . . . and all of these are speeches that Lillian Smith gave . . . and the first one in here is from . . . that she gave at the Fellowship in Raleigh. The meeting the summer before I went in as Executive. And then, one of these records is about the Greensboro—Our Face is Our Word. It's about the Greensboro city and Lillian Smith, and also, in the material I'm going to give you to read after lunch . . . Howard Wilkinson just sent me after I . . . my old alma mater gave me a doctorate in 79, 70, I guess, and the very thing that the Southern Presbyterian Church questioned, you know, in my radicality, they cited as reasons for my stance on peace and

Page 55
my very radical stance on race and labor. And that was interesting. But anyway, Howard Wilkinson saw my picture in the St. Andrew Bulletin and wrote me and sent me the Editorial Prophetic Religion, and it was a long time ago, just after I went in, he was on the Board, Paula Smelling who lived with Lillian Smith, (you know she and Lillian Smith lived together for years) was on the Board, was on the Editorial Board then, and let's see, several other people you might know, but it was kind of interesting to me. That all these people . . . I had forgotten . . . I knew that we had had a lot of correspondence with Paula Smelling, and that she was very active, as active as Lillian Smith in the Fellowship.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh! I wasn't aware of that.
NELLE MORTON:
I think it might be interesting . . . do you know Warren Ashby's book . . . on Dr. Graham . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I know of it . . .
NELLE MORTON:
It might be interesting for you to get that book and read in there the section that he has on Dr. Frank's involvement with the Southern Conference of Human Welfare. And I did not know this before, until Warren put it in there, that Dr. Frank is the one who got Eleanor Roosevelt to speak at the Southern Conference. And he was the one who was made chairman, and it was when he began to find this very active communist element was in there and began to take over, and he . . . and Eleanor Roosevelt cooperated on beating them at their own game. It was just very cleverly written in there.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I've been doing some reading on Southern History, and they quote Ashby's book on all those points. In fact, I don't remember which Southern

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History book it was, but they spent quite a bit of time on the Southern Conference.
[END OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I will get Tony's book to you. I'll try to send it back with these.
NELLE MORTON:
Oh well, I'm going to depend on that . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I'll see that you get it.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
One thing I've wondered about that I've noticed about Methodist ministers in Alabama, and that is the so-called "Liberal" ministers. They have a hang up on the macho male image. They're very concerned about being real "he-men" and it often reflects itself in their sexual behavior. And this is especially true in the black church . . . among black ministers. Did you run into that with the Fellowship people?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, when you say "macho"—just really "he-man". I think there was some of that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
They were frequently having to prove that they were real men though. They were making sexual propositions. To a lot of women.
NELLE MORTON:
I admit that, too.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
In terms of both the black and the white?
NELLE MORTON:
The one thing Buck Kester and I think had kind of settled . . . I think I picked that up, and he kept saying to the Executive Committee, . . . every time we have a conference there are to be no liquor bottles . . . and as far as I know Walter Sykes is the only one who brought . . . he brought wine . . . to one of the conferences. Fortunately I saw it . . .

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he had put them in the waste paper basket and I just simply got them out and stuck them in my car. They were empty bottles . . . because if you can't have a conference in the mountains or anywhere, you know, it's just the one thing that people cannot take and they really take that literally. You just don't drink. Like the church people in the South drink now.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, I know that.
NELLE MORTON:
But, I'm a Pilgrim Place two (???)
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right.
NELLE MORTON:
I think I never had any, now whether anybody else had I don't know whether there was any of that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Were there any . . in these workcamps where you had the teenagers and the young people . .
NELLE MORTON:
I do not know if anything happened.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You do not know about any . . . just the fact that a girl and a boy might have wanted to date or something like that. You didn't know anything about that, did you?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh well, I'm sure that there was dating in the workcamps.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You all didn't bother to try to stop that sort of thing?
NELLE MORTON:
No, I mean, it just never seemed to be a problem.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Good.
NELLE MORTON:
And of course you never know when things are going on, like you don't know a thing about it.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Sure.
What else do you think I should know?

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NELLE MORTON:
Oh gracious! Well I know I'm seeing the work of the Fellowship as infinitely more important since this writing has . . . is being done about it, and that I am pulling up. It's the only work that I have been in that's been as deeply satisfying, because I mean you felt you could put everything you have in this, because this is the way it ought to be. And I can see your cult. I've been thinking a lot about that. I was telling John when he was here, there are overtones in the Fellowship that are cultism in a sense. Well, they may be spiritual overtones, but a person who puts their name on the line in membership and reads that membership statement . . . well, I mean you just trust them. And it's just a beautiful thing.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
It was a kind of consuming thing.
NELLE MORTON:
Right! Exactly! And so and so's a member of the Fellowship . . . and here's a new member, something like that . . . and the same too, it cut right through any kind of class . . well, or race. It was anybody might invite you to a meeting, and you might invite anybody you might see around. There was just no . . well it was just a different relationship than I ever had with somebody who was just a member of . . and I think that's what the church ought to be . . . the church community, but it never was. The one thing that I learned a very great deal—I've got this in my material that I'm working on now—and I learned this in the Fellowship, is that . . . and I've applied it to the woman's movement . . listen everything I've learned in the Fellowship is just so applicable to what women are about now, and I never knew I was prejudiced until I got into the women's movement. I thought when I got

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into the Fellowship that I would go all the way . . . I knew that I identified myself with the blacks and with the workers, and I just thought I kept thumbing my nose, so to speak, to people who couldn't deal with the issue. And when I began to realize the prejudice against me, and the discrimination against women . . . wow . . . that I just . . . I hadn't scratched the surface when I was in Fellowship. And probably none of us had. And one thing that, when we were in a community and I'll just give this as an example, at the workcamp at Columbia, and maybe we'd go after supper that night into a black home or when I would be invited into a black home and this happened many times at Benny Mays' . . so may black people gathered in kitchens—that was where they let their hair down—and I discovered that in the small community in the South the black people knew every single white person, and made it their business to know—they knew who they could trust and who they couldn't. The white people knew one language among the whites . . . they had to say "boy", they didn't know anything else to say . . and now when I'm in the women's movement I began to transfer that to the blacks are women—both men and women—and the blacks have not yet faced that because I thought of this a little while ago when you talked about the blacks have taken over the masochistic feelings of man—stance of man and to display it where they could. I have discovered that while all the blacks are, you know, like that, they know the white community . . . the white and the . . . but the black women know the language of the black man and the white. . . . and they're the only ones who know four languages. And I think that ultimately it's through the black

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woman that we are going to find liberation. And the loneliest person in the world, I think, is the white man. He knows one language. And you see we have made it our business to know the male language, and to think male, and to read male—hear male lectures and get male degrees. But the men have never done this about women. And it is denigrating to man, in other words, to begin to have to think . . . or even admit . . that women have another way of thinking and the theologizing among women is altogether different.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I wrote a paper about a year ago on authentic religions in which I dealt with the androgyne—the god of both male and female—and we don't have that . .
NELLE MORTON:
Well I've got an article for you to read, I've got an extra copy, I can't find the extra copy flat back, but I used to go all out for Androgynes, but now I think it's sexist. Androgynes is a male concept because you do not put . . it is still reckoning . . . it is still reckoning deity to think of an adrogynous god—a deity in terms of half man-half woman, if you will. And it is still reducing . . . let me get it right now . . . from the . . here it is, just take it with you. We've got a long way to go, don't we?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
We always will, probably.
NELLE MORTON:
Right . . because the minute you begin to solve one thing, . . . here you see I'm all for this black God because I think that . . I think it's idolatry, but I think it is a way of confronting the white man in the old God, but I don't think the blacks could say "The Goddess" yet. And I think until we can say "The Goddess" that would confront the maleness

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in the old God. I'm getting more and more into . . . I started this collection in the theological vein but I moved to the images that are projected and that the common people are hearing whether they're religious or not, and how these images out of the theology that we've grown up on have spun themselves out into the very social and political structures that have made Reagan, and it created the destruction of the environment.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
One of my theories is that, even in the Fellowship, people were operating out of images . . . out of traditional images . . . that they didn't let go of them. The paternalism . . . that's why I've asked about females and the role of blacks . . . apparently the images . . . you've contradicted what I've assumed would be going on. I thought it would be male dominated, that females . . . their opinions would not be accepted very much . . . that the males would assume that the place for the woman would be in the home . . . I see that operating in the Committee of Southern Churchmen . . . in that group . . . and I'm not sure that I'm right on that . . . the little bit that I've been with it. And so I thought that the Fellowship was the same way, but apparently not.
NELLE MORTON:
Well, I'm sure it was to a large extent. I don't think I could have avoided it. But when I think of people like Sadie Hughley and Brownie Newman and Flemmie Kittrell, oh I can't think of the labor movement women I spoke of earlier, and . . . I think these people . . . and Mary Lakenan who was very conservative ordinarily but gave money more . . . as much as anybody else nearly to the Fellowship . . . she taught Bible for years at Mary Baldwin College . . . and going to Pleasant Hill to a

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conference it caused her to move down there . . . she wanted that atmosphere . . . she wanted to end her days there . . . she's not living now . . . but she left money to the Fellowship . . . Mary Lakenan was very open in the way she spoke in meetings and . . . I'm sure a lot of us were quieter . . . I guess I'll have to think about that more because I'm sure there was a lot, but the very fact that Scotty Cowan would mention that . . . he was conscious of it.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He was struggling with it.
NELLE MORTON:
Even that far back, and that was in the 30s, the latter, well I knew Scotty first in the 30s and then in the 40s. No I guess not in the 30s because he wasn't thinking . . . he was thinking of this in relation to me as somebody, as an executive in the Fellowship. I never could be doing what I'm doing in the woman's movement now if it hadn't been for the Fellowship. And the experience I had with race and labor.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What publisher are you working with?
NELLE MORTON:
I anticipate The Crossing Press because it's in the hands of an editor now and because I felt a while back I wasn't going to make it, I just have these ups and downs and my blood drops so low I just can't think straight, and I had to put it in the hands of someone so this editor is going to work . . . and knows the editor Herb Allen of Crossing Press and it's been recommended to me from several people. And I like what I hear of it. I know Herb Richardson who is the religious advisor for Harper & Row which I just as soon not have them do it, and the third possibility is . . . Beacon Press . . . I know the editor there . . . and they've asked me for anything that I may have. So I would guess it would be one

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of those and the editor who has the material is so excited about what it is saying he feels nobody has dealt with images in the way that I have and next to the last essay is the goddess in metaphoric image, which you know that metaphor has a double function—it has an iconoclastic that shatters the old logic and then a kind of revelatory that ushers in a new logic and then the goddess works herself out of business.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Charles McCoy, on the phone, said he thought the Fellowship worked out the strategy of the civil rights movement before the civil rights movement came, and you indicated something similar to that this morning.
NELLE MORTON:
Oh, I think this is the kind of thing that we insisted upon from the Freedom Ride, that they go through several days' discipline period of what would you do . . . a role playing out . . . if so and so happened, and that whatever happened it must be non-violent approach. Well, of course, that was all for Bayard Rustin was in that and he just agreed with me 100% from the beginning to end and . . . but George Harrison was in a sense the official, and George of course thought he knew better and he just didn't pay any attention to that . . . and I don't think that had to blow up . . . I think the Fellowship had gotten by with too many things to have it blow up. And it was of a nonviolent nature with no effort to trigger off something, and I don't know whether you've seen in the PBS News, this Jim Peck who is . . . he was on this Freedom Ride and he also wrote a book on it, and it was just very badly done because it was so chauvinistic, and he was on the next Freedom Ride that went down to Mississippi and he is now suing the government for this enormous sum. And listen Jim brings this stuff on him . . . he does it . . . he

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triggered off . . . he tried to trigger off several things on this Freedom Ride that we picked up in Chapel Hill. He just is not committed to . . . I just would have a very great difficulty judging that case.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What sort of things would he do that could trigger off on the first Freedom Ride?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, it's hard to say, but I mean, you know, there are ways that you could go into a bus with a black person and sit down in a seat and be very unobtrusive about it without threatening anybody. Well the kind of thing that he would do would make it obvious . . . this was to test a law or something, rather than that you're doing this because of a right. I guess this is what I mean.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
A kind of arrogance.
NELLE MORTON:
Yes. Arrogance. Oh he was just as arrogant as he could be. And this is the sort of thing I would never have a person like that on the Freedom Ride, and yet he worked this thing so you almost had to support him . . . if you didn't support him look where you'd be. Well it's that sort of thing. Now Bayard Rustin . . . I don't think we committed, we . . . that we did this to him . . . he just agreed with us because he was so sensitive to the whole thing, but Bayard Rustin, you see, went down when SCLC was organized . . . Bayard was the person behind the scenes in setting that up, in working out strategy, and being so careful to train people to be non-violent . . . and I don't think it was just Martin Luther King . . . he was the front person . . . Bayard organized all of those marches. He's just a past master at that. And he was working then with A. Phillip Randolph Fund in New York and it's through them that you

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could reach Bayard, and I think Bayard had as much to do with transferring the . . . you know . . . and I don't see where the city . . . where SNCC got the idea . . .
[END OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[TAPE 4, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 4, SIDE A]
NELLE MORTON:
The Fellowship was a pioneering group and it almost served its purpose. And you don't keep a group alive you know just because it has finished its work, now I think there's a lot more to do, and there's more there now, but it wasn't anything that other people couldn't begin to pick up . . . which they have . . . I mean local churches have begun to do a lot of stuff, you see, that the Fellowship was doing, and other groups too, and in this sense it never has bothered me that the Fellowship folded. I would be very much concerned if it tried to keep itself alive and it was a dead something, you know . . . its time had passed. And I think that because it allowed itself . . . well . . . we had committees . . . you see when the Fellowship started there wasn't one of those conference centers around Asheville that was integrated . . . Instead of the Fellowship going in and doing something, it got in touch with persons. We started with swimming pools in a good many of them, and it was specially when the young people . . . when students would have conferences there that it became such an issue, and I can remember when there wasn't a single one of those pools anywhere around there integrated . . . Montreat, Junaluska, any of them. In Montreat we got

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it touch with Jack Marion who was a member of the Fellowship . . . Jack is retired in Florida now, he was head of social action for the Presbyterian Church U.S., and Jack began to gather people around him who were Presbyterian and who could follow though afterward and so we kept supporting him and many times he would report to the Fellowship Executive Committee and get other ideas about moving, techniques and so forth. But the work was done by . . . they never knew the Fellowship had anything to do with it. The same thing was true with Junaluska. It was Fellowship members that we got together who were Methodist who began to work on integrating that pool at Junaluska.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well what other things happened like that, other than the swimming pools or Junaluska. Were there things that the Fellowship got going that no one ever knew about?
NELLE MORTON:
Yes, that just happened to be when the youth were there. The . . . already before the pool in Montreat was integrating, already . . . you see when I worked with the Presbyterians in Youth work, the black council wasn't even allowed to the meetings. And the first ones that . . . when they were first allowed in they had to get some kind of job . . . menial labor in the community and live in little shacks . . . there was a row of shacks on the hill and the blacks lived there. Well as far as we know even that much hadn't happened anyplace else and we thought that was terrible. I remember when the . . . it was assumed that . . . whether they got the permission I don't know, but it was assumed that the blacks would attend this big banquet that the youths had and at the last minute the privilege was taken away. And I'm not sure about this it was so

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long ago . . . It was in the thirties . . . that all the other young people refused to go to the banquet too. And you see the young people were raising questions and were putting . . . pushing this thing earlier . . . and then, one I never shall forget, Lake Susan is in the midst of Montreat, beautiful place, I don't think you've been there . . . a black woman, and I think she was from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, drowned herself in Lake Susan, and the thing that was so frightening was that they began to hush it up and refused to investigate it, and then finally said it was other reasons that caused it, you know, like pregnancy. Well, one of the black young people was upset and that told me directly she had taken as much as she could and that having to go up, climb up this little hill to these shacks and live there was just so humiliating, and see other people swim. And this was when Rosewell Long was living, he was the one who took me over to Buck's that one night, and this was just something that I could not deal with, and then he and I . . . walked around that swimming pool and went in that pool, and swore together that as long as we lived, since we couldn't make any headway with the administration there, that as long as we lived this woman's death would not be in vain. That . . . we pledged ourselves . . . that we would keep it in mind in everything we did. It was a very moving thing to me, and I told that story when I was invited back in '79 to speak in Montreat, and then picked it up again at the end when I talked about the . . . I quoted the black theologians as saying . . . in the Black Theology of South Africa, that they were rebelling against the images that the white people had brought in to Africa. That they had to have images of love

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and kindness, healing, and so forth, and then I followed that and I said, and I hear what they're saying because I had my ears opened by the Baptism of Waters of Lake Susan, and I didn't ever give Rossell Long's name in that, but I could easily have. But it's this kind of thing that . . . I think the work with the Presbyterians changed me as much as anything else, because I began to see the whole meaning of justice and you'd be surprised at the numb . . . at the people who fought integration at Montreat . . . Billy Graham . . . has one of the biggest houses there . . . and he was one . . . and then Nelson Bell who was a missionary to China, who . . . well his daughter married Billy Graham . . . he lived there you see and he fought integration like everything. And he tied integration into sex see . . . among the young people.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh yes . . . talk about images . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Right, images again.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
One of the images that was dominant in the South . . . image of the Lost Cause . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Oh! [Laughter] I don't have to deal with that. [Laughter]
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I just wondered . . . some of the liberals I've known in my period in the 50s and 60s, seem to operate out of that same image themselves always fighting lost causes or always losing causes, but I don't get a hint of that with the Fellowship. Did they lose on any significant things?
NELLE MORTON:
I guess there was something of that sort . . . one person who was secretary of the Fellowship . . . her husband was getting his Ph.D. in history and he went later to teach history at Princeton and then later at Cornell . . . she said she wanted a job with the Fellowship more than

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anything . . . she liked the Fellowship people but she said I get you to understand I am not religious . . I just do not go along with the religion in this. And then there was a strong student communist group on the campus at that same time, and she said I'm much closer to where they are than where the Fellowship is from a religious stance. And then out of the clear sky, . . why she was a beautiful typist and she was a historian of Erwin Bright. And then out of the clear sky she said one day, "The one thing that has convinced me that I'd rather work with the Fellowship than any other group I know is that if you go into a project and it fails, it doesn't ruin you." You are able to look at it and examine wherein you did things prematurely, and this goes with every project, that you evaluate every . . what it was . . and the other group, they just go to pieces . . . " And this may be a little of what you're talking about.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
A little of it. I guess it goes with Neibuhr's hard nosed realism. You know, that you don't expect . . . that you're not Messiahs . . you're not going to solve all the world's problems, so a little bit of failure is not tragic. Also what I was trying to point out is more like Jim Peck where people create failure, and I don't get the feel of that with the Fellowship.
NELLE MORTON:
Do you want me to tell you an incident about Reinhold Niebuhr working with students to integrate Duke Chapel? Reinhold Niebuhr was invited down to . . the students were trying to integrate Duke Chapel and had . . two or three had been able to get in . . I mean a black and a white one week, and then maybe another week, you know, a few more, and so

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forth . . . but . . when this was . . . and I'm guessing this was a university chapel . . . because they were expecting this enormous crowd to hear Reinhold Niebuhr so they suddenly said it would have to be segregated. And here after the students had been working all this time and in a lot of ways . . so they decided they couldn't possibly go and accept the segregation. They got in touch with Niebuhr and this was that intercollegiate inter-racial student group in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham. I got in touch with Niebuhr and had a lunch with Niebuhr to talk about strategy . . what do you do in a case like this . . do you just crash, you know, the place. And so they talked and talked right through the whole Saturday afternoon, he was going to have the thing next morning . . the lecture . . . and it was obvious that it was going to be very crowded and everybody wanted to go, of course, the students . . . and Niebuhr was right in there trying to work out things with them. They had been to the administration and they didn't get anywhere. Oh they just thought of all kinds of things they could do. And then finally, Niebuhr suggested this list, which, it was enlarged, you couldn't give them credit for the whole thing . . he said, well now let's see. . suppose they would say that the blacks would sit on one side and the whites would sit on the other . . and that the students would go in . . would go very early . . and the white students would sit on the white side, and the blacks students would sit on the black side, but would scatter themselves out all over so maybe there would be room for 5 or 6 between them. And so they decided to do that, and went early, and of course . . the crowds . . . they went very early, and the

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lines were beginning to form early too, and people were so anxious to hear Niebuhr that they . . the whites just rushed in and sat between the blacks. It was all mixed up. And by the end it was all mixed up . . they didn't know what to do . . I mean, it was completely integrated in a way, and it was so satisfying and had such meaning that they never segregated again. Which is part of the realism too.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
The integrated student group . . Did the Fellowship organize those students to start with?
NELLE MORTON:
Yes, there were 13 of them in the South, and I was reading in one of those . . I couldn't think of where all of them are, and I'm sure I couldn't now, but I know one was in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, one was in the Greensboro area, one in Charlotte, Richmond, Atlanta, Louisville, Kentucky . . and you see there were Fellowship members in all of these places who were supportive of the students and these things just began to happen, all kinds of things the Fellowship didn't know anything about and they would just go ahead and I think a lot of people grew up having their experience in that sort of thing . . working through strategies.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I wonder where all these students found places to meet?
NELLE MORTON:
Well that's a good question, and I don't know the answer to that. That's what they would have to work out and most of them started out with small enough groups where they would have permission to meet in the church. And I'm sure most of them did meet in the church. But Charles Jones keeps . . . I'm so sorry that you can't talk with him . . even if he can't . . . maybe if you sort of keep in touch there and if things

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clear that you can, I've learned an awful lot on strategy from Charles Jones. He could get by with bloody murder . . he is so innocent looking and he is so sweet . . and he is so courageous . . he goes in, you know, not like this, but like he is a friend coming to visit, and he taught me one thing that I never will forget . . . and it is in relation to his own church board . . and I said . . the man's name was John something . . and he was on the church board at the University of North Carolina, and he was rabid about having blacks come to church and I know Dr. Frank Graham said to him one time during a board meeting, . . . "Now John, I just hate to hear you say that because things are going to move so rapidly during the next few years your children are going to hear that you stood out for segregation here . . and I would hate . . your children are too bright for that . . . and I would hate to have to see you try to live that down in five or six years." This kind of thing. Well, it's the way Charles was too . . I think he kind of learned a lot of his from Dr. Frank, but Charles, I said, I don't see how you can be so kind to the man, and act as if he's so close to you and such a friend. I said, do you know what he said at the last board meeting? And then there was another man, he was a professor too, . . oh he was ugly . . you know about that . . I said Charles you are so friendly to him. I said, are you two-faced? Well, he said he had learned a long time before that that you can't hold anything against a person . . that something may have happened to that person between the time he said this thing and the next time you see him. He said if you speak to him as if he is that same person, you hold him to his segregated point of view.

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But, he said, you just go as if, you know, as if he had another chance and as that he may have changed in the meantime. And he was just like that with people. I think that is so . . . I mean it's very hard not to close people off.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That's one thing that continues into Will Campbell. Not closing people off. I don't know if you read his Brother to a Dragonfly? Have you read that?
NELLE MORTON:
Yes, umhmmm.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That phrase, "We're all bastards, but God loves us anyway."
NELLE MORTON:
Um, um, um.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That sort of says the same thing. What else should I know?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh my gracious . . . I don't know what you want to know.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Let me try out bouncing some things off you, after listening to you, now. During that early period it was pretty much a one-person operation under Buck Kester.
NELLE MORTON:
I would guess. You see, I wasn't at that first meeting.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right. But Buck would travel all over the South. He would go to hot spots like Marianna, Florida, the lynching they had there. But by the '40s there was a change . . . more activity on the part of individuals. Especially after the Second World War there seemed to be a change in race relations especially in the blacks who had been overseas and more militance was beginning to come forth all over . . . more activity . . . so more things were going on out in the community and in the denominations and places like that. And then after you left, Buck came in and tried to reconstitute the individual sort of approach.

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NELLE MORTON:
Now I would say it appears that way to me. Whether that's true, I do not know. But, I have heard a number of Fellowship members indicate that Buck had not been as aware of all the things that had been happening between his two . . . and he never came to one of the meetings that I know of . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
When you were there?
NELLE MORTON:
Yes, and this was unfortunate, you see . . . that I know of . . . that I remember.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes. Did you have annual meetings of the members?
NELLE MORTON:
We had annual meetings . . . they were called more Family because the people would come and bring their whole family . . . and then we would have . . . the Executive Committee would meet about twice a year . . . so that was the main structure of it. And then certain committees like the one on Rural Reconstruction or the one on dealing with Race or the one on Student Projects would meet in the meantime . . . and these changed sometimes . . . I mean these were more short-term committees that would meet. And I don't think we ever tried to find a place for workcamp, I think we . . . I think people approached us . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
They asked for it and you responded to it . . .
NELLE MORTON:
Or people who were already in the Fellowship who we would never think of, having one in Big Lick on inoculating the mountain people, and the kind of thing that took place there. We had a student in a ministry project in Atlanta . . . Rosalie Oakes was there with the YWCA Southern Region at that time and was very active at that time in setting it up and following it through.

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DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Were you ever at all related or cooperating with the Southern Regional Council?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, of course, being in Chapel Hill, you see Guy Johnson was into that before Les Dunbar and then I think maybe they were together. Yes, I think we were, and we certainly were aware of what they were doing and we were friendly with Guy Johnson . . . but he was a pretty conservative person. He didn't consider the Southern Region . . . he considered the Southern Regional Council . . . it seemed to me at that period, as more as a studying the region rather than changing it. That's what it seemed.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
They also were not very pro-integration, either. They were not into Civil Rights.
NELLE MORTON:
No. No they never have been. But I tell you Dr. Odum just surprised us in the stance he would take, and you see Guy Johnson was related to Dr. Odum and his work. Lee Brooks was an active member of the Fellowship and he taught in the sociology department there, but . . . one time Odum had some kind of regional meeting at the university and the morning it was to open and they were to register, here were all these signs up all over toilets . . . black man . . . white man . . . black woman . . . white woman . . . he just went around . . . he didn't say a thing, he just went around and took all of them down.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Who was that?
NELLE MORTON:
That was Odum.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, he took the signs down.

Page 76
NELLE MORTON:
Yes. Odum was . . . he just was always cooperative with us, . . . as you can see with Bayard Rustin . . . and that study Bayard was presenting at the prisons.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Somewhere I read, though, that Odum was not so much in favor of integration.
NELLE MORTON:
No, well, he was kind of like Guy Johnson, he didn't push it, but he thought it was coming, you know, in its own time. He was a regional . . .
[END OF TAPE 4, SIDE A]

[TAPE 4, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 4, SIDE B]
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
North Carolina?
NELLE MORTON:
Of the University of North Carolina, and of course, Phillip Russell was very supportive.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Phillip Russell? Who was he?
NELLE MORTON:
Oh well, let's see, he taught journalism and was very famous. He was also editor of the Chapel Hill Weekly. Most people that I knew in Chapel Hill, you see, I had to have my social life there too, and they were just very excited about the kind of things . . . not all of them would participate but just all of them were very supportive . . . I have never, never had any lack of social contact there among the faculty and so forth, and I know oh, I almost had the name of the city planner . . . (Jack Parker) a very famous person . . . well a lot of them would call me when they'd have certain lectures there that would be a select group of people . . . what is his name . . . very famous one, it was just a beautiful experience just to be close to . . . Jack something . . . city

Page 77
planning . . . and then another person is, I was very close to the Gillins, you know he's the anthropologist . . . and his father was an anthropologist too, you know, John Gillins.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
One name that has popped up . . . J. C. Herrin . . . was he on the faculty at North Carolina?
NELLE MORTON:
No, no. He was the Baptist student worker. J. C. was a strange person.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
In what way?
NELLE MORTON:
Well, he was very cooperative, he just got his stories mixed up a lot of times.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
There were indications at the end that Buck thought that J.C. was trying to undermine him.
NELLE MORTON:
I didn't know that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
To keep him from getting a grant.
NELLE MORTON:
What! I never heard of that!
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh. I think it was J.C. I'll have to go back to the documents to verify that.
NELLE MORTON:
Where would you find that?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
It was in the last documents in the file that the university . . . I mean that the library . . .
NELLE MORTON:
I mean what kind of document?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
A letter from Buck. A copy of a letter from Buck to someone else.
NELLE MORTON:
It would be very hard . . . now I think J.C. was an egotist . . . and he was . . . it would be very hard for me to believe that he would do that
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Where did he wind up? Where did he go from North Carolina?

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NELLE MORTON:
I just don't know where he went. He just dropped out of the picture. Isn't that . . . I tell you what . . . now this is not . . . I think it best if you turn this off . . .
END OF INTERVIEW