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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nelle Morton, June 29, 1983. Interview F-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The Fellowship of Southern Churchmen and the Journey of Reconciliation

In this excerpt, Morton discusses the role of the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen in the aftermath of the first Freedom Ride (the Journey of Reconciliation) in 1947. Although not sponsors of the ride itself, the Fellowship did do what they could for the riders who were arrested in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. According to Morton, the Fellowship's work in this incident was demonstrative of their organizational efforts throughout the South.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nelle Morton, June 29, 1983. Interview F-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DALLAS 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]
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 . . . 006 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 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.