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
He would not have included Penn Center on his tour because I'm sure he
found it real painful.
He was bitter about Penn center.
Penn school was bitter about him. He had a very rough time there.
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.
She was the organizer of that team.
Yes. Buck comes back in '52.
What age would he have been? I'd say he was going into sort of a
No. He wasn't retired because in '52, Nancy would have been just 19 and
going to college.
No time to retire is it.
He's in his forties at that time.
But Buck was still operating back in the 30's in terms of the way he
operated. The fellowship he's grown beyond that.
He was in an endangered situation in Mississippi farm-wise.
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 . . .
He was drawn to hot spots.
Publicity may have been part of it. I don't know. But Nelle was a quite
organizer of local community groups.
It was a totally different approach.
And getting them out there to stir up trouble and create change rather
than react to it.
Is Buck dead now?
Yes. He died in '76.
What did he die of?
He died with his boots on.