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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, October 16, 1975. Interview G-0023-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Composition of <cite>The South: Economic Problem Number One</cite>

Durr describes how a group of southern New Dealers composed <cite>The South: Economic Problem Number One</cite> in her living room.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, October 16, 1975. Interview G-0023-3. 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

So then Cliff and Lister Hill and John Sparkman and Clark Foreman and Tex Goldschmidt and Abe Fortas and all the Southern New Dealers belonged to something called the . . . I forget the name of it, but they'd have dinner together once a month and talk about the South. After the miserable failure that Roosevelt had made in his purge of the South, Clark Foreman and another fellow there in Washington, a very bright fellow named Jerome Frank, they had the idea that a pamphlet shoudl be written on the South. They sold the idea to the President, and Lowell Mallett, who was head of something called the Emergency Committee which was sort of the propaganda, publicity end of the New Deal. So they wrote this pamphlet called "The South: Economic Problem Number One." And Cliff has an article in there on credit, and he wrote the letter that the President signed. It's kind of a collector's item now. I'm sure I have one. Cliff used to give them out to people. Anyway they wrote the pamphlet, and they mostly wrote it in my living room and they were always fighting each other. Arthur Raper, you know, there were a lot of people from the South that wrote it. There were a lot of young Southerners. [Was Aubrey Williams on it?] I don't think . . .Aubrey was too busy. He might have attended a few meetings. They wrote this pamphlet called "The South: Economic Problem Number One." It was all about the South and the lack of credit and the state of affairs and so on. Here I'm srying to get the two groups together. Here was this New Deal group of young Southerners working mostly in my living room at night, or sometimes down at Lowell Mallett's, who lived right down the road. The New Dealers had begun to move into the neighborhood then, and he was a dear friend. He worked in the White House, and he was head of this national Emergency Council, which was a sort of publicity arm of the New Deal. So they sold the idea of this pamphlet to the President and to Lowell Mellett. And they had articles on agriculture and industry. It was a kind of manifesto of what had to be done in the South. It's really very good. It's still good. OK, we've got this group of young Southerners writing this pamphlet in my living room.