Buck Kester helped create a social justice movement in the American South
Neale reflects on Kester's legacy. While she does not think the results of Kester's work are visible in the contemporary South, she believes that his efforts affected southerners' lives and set a precedent for church leadership on economic and racial justice.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Nancy Kester Neale, August 6, 1983. Interview F-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- DALLAS BLANCHARD:
Looking back now, I was born in 1933, I grew up in sort of the same
society as you did. I lived in the black belt in Alabama for a couple of
long years and I drive back through that section now and I am really
struck by the changes. And so few people are really aware of what life
was like, even the black young people. It is a different world. Looking
back on all of that, what kind of impact did Buck Kester and that group
have? What contribution did they make to where we are today?
- NANCY KESTER NEALE:
Well it depends on if you see things discretely or in a continuous line.
I tend to see everything connected. Obviously the organization was not a
major contribution factor in the south today
as far now. But at the time several of the organizations like the
Economic and Racial Justice which paid his salary and kept them
functioning for quite a while so that they could move into the
fellowship and develop that whole Union stuff going along. I think
besides effecting peoples lives, it sort of set a precident, for
southeners to always react to their surroundings and not always feeling
acted upon. I think southeners often have that kind of feeling where
they have been acted upon, whether it was the civil war, or whether it
was other kinds of experiences, it was sort of like life was too much to
do much about. But I really think it was like my dad often said, in as
much as everyone else is saying, the church is the one place where
things that we have got the best shot that we have got through making
changes at the church, institutional church related like the fellowship.
And we have to try.