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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Elizabeth and Courtney Siceloff, July 8, 1985. Interview F-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The Fellowship declined due to Kester's leadership strategy

Despite Kester's charisma, he was no match for Nelle Morton's organizational abilities. His lack of focus on such tactics stalled the Fellowship's progress.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Elizabeth and Courtney Siceloff, July 8, 1985. Interview F-0039. 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

ELIZABETH SICELOFF He would not have included Penn Center on his tour because I'm sure he found it real painful. DALLAS BLANCHARD He was bitter about Penn center. ELIZABETH SICELOFF Penn school was bitter about him. He had a very rough time there. DALLAS BLANCHARD One of my impressions was that Buck ran into trouble because of Buck in the 50's. Well, Buck was grate in the 30's with the Fellowship by getting it going with his charismatic personality but then comes Nelle Morton in the 40's who's the organizer par excellence. and the victor. Buck tended to give knee-jerk reactions and Alice steadied him a whole lot from what I've heard and kind of kept his feet on the ground. ELIZABETH SICELOFF She was the organizer of that team. DALLAS BLANCHARD Yes. Buck comes back in '52. COURTNEY SICELOFF What age would he have been? I'd say he was going into sort of a retirement. DALLAS BLANCHARD No. He wasn't retired because in '52, Nancy would have been just 19 and going to college. ELIZABETH SICELOFF No time to retire is it. DALLAS BLANCHARD He's in his forties at that time. ELIZABETH SICELOFF Pretty young. DALLAS BLANCHARD But Buck was still operating back in the 30's in terms of the way he operated. The fellowship he's grown beyond that. COURTNEY SICELOFF He was in an endangered situation in Mississippi farm-wise. DALLAS BLANCHARD My description of Buck Kester is the Lone Ranger who would ride into town and the folks would ask, "Who was that masked man?" He'd go to Marianna, Florida then to investigate a lynching and almost get lynched himself. He'd go into some little town in Arkansas and try to organize the local tenant farmer's union then he was gone. He was from one hot spot to another . . . ELIZABETH SICELOFF He was drawn to hot spots. DALLAS BLANCHARD Publicity may have been part of it. I don't know. But Nelle was a quite organizer of local community groups. ELIZABETH SICELOFF It was a totally different approach. DALLAS BLANCHARD And getting them out there to stir up trouble and create change rather than react to it. ELIZABETH SICELOFF Is Buck dead now? DALLAS BLANCHARD Yes. He died in '76. ELIZABETH SICELOFF What did he die of? COURTNEY SICELOFF He died with his boots on.