Title: Oral History Interview with Jean Fairfax, October 15, 1983. Interview F-0013.
Interviewer: Blanchard, Dallas A.
Interviewee: Fairfax, Jean
Subjects: Southern States--Race relations Fellowship of Southern Churchmen African American civil rights workers--North Carolina
Abstract: Jean Fairfax was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Following her education in theology, Fairfax moved South where she served as the Dean of Women at both Kentucky State College and Tuskegee Institute. Fairfax resided in the South from 1942 until 1946; thereafter, she spent two years abroad doing missionary work, after which she moved to New England. Around 1957, she returned to the South, where she became actively involved in the civil rights movement. In this interview, Fairfax focuses primarily on her perceptions of the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, paying particular attention to its goals and its leaders. According to Fairfax, the primary goal of the Fellowship was to promote universal Christian fellowship. Because of the emphasis on unity, the Fellowship was increasingly concerned with issues of race and desegregation. Fairfax recalls that challenging racism was a present theme in the activities of the Fellowship while she was associated with the organization, and she asserts that its views on gender and class were also progressive. In addition, Fairfax describes leaders within the Fellowship. While she focuses primarily on the leadership roles and styles of Nelle Morton and Reinhold Niebuhr, she also offers her thoughts on such leaders as Howard "Buck" Kester, Charles Jones, and Will Campbell. Fairfax concludes that her work in the civil rights movement was a natural outgrowth of her involvement in the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen and explains that the Fellowship gave her both confidence in herself and in others in the pursuit of challenging Jim Crow segregation.