Title: Oral History Interview with Phillips Russell, November 18, 1974. Interview B-0011-3.
Interviewer: Frederickson, Mary
Interviewee: Russell, Phillips
Subjects: Trade-unions--North Carolina--Political activity Southern Summer School for Women Workers in Industry (U.S.)
Abstract: Charles Phillips Russell was born in North Carolina during the late 1800s. After graduating from the University of North Carolina just after the turn of the twentieth century, he spent time in New York and London, working as a writer before returning to Chapel Hill to teach at the University in 1925. For the majority of the interview, Russell focuses specifically on worker education programs in North Carolina during the late 1930s and early 1940s. During these years, Russell taught for one summer at the Southern Summer School for Workers in 1939 and for two summers at the Black Mountain College Institute of the Textile Workers of America in 1942 and 1943. Russell describes the role of leaders at these schools, offering insight into the labor activism of Louise McLaren, Leo Huberman, Larry Rogan, and Mildred Price. Comparing his experiences at the two schools, Russell describes the role of faculty, the role of students, curriculum, and recreation. According to Russell, the Southern Summer School adopted a "top-down" approach in which teachers exercised a great deal of authority and control within the school, whereas the Black College School was more oriented around the students. Russell also addresses various schools of thought within the labor movement, arguing that while some labor leaders emphasized political action, he believed economic change was more important. As for curriculum at the summer schools, while workers were encouraged to participate in politics as a means of promoting their collective interests, Russell argues that political activism was not overt, nor was it geared towards espousing particular political ideologies.