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Oral History Interview with Howard Kester, August 25, 1974. Interview B-0007-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Howard Kester was a Socialist and Christian who advocated for social justice causes throughout the South from the mid-1920s through the 1960s. In this interview, he discusses his involvement with such organizations as the YMCA and YWCA, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, the Committee on Economic and Racial Justice, the Penn School, the Southern Summer School for Women Workers, and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. Throughout the interview, Kester emphasizes his radical Christian values and Socialist leanings in relationship to his beliefs regarding fundamental human equality. Kester equates the struggles of African Americans with those of workers, and views social justice issues as relevant to all Americans, regardless of their social standing. He discusses both the progress made towards these ends as well as the obstacles that remained, primarily during the 1930s and 1940s. He also describes the leadership roles and beliefs of fellow social activists such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Elizabeth Gilman, Alva Taylor, Elizabeth Jones, Louise Young, Louise Leonard McLaren, and Kester's wife, Alice Harris Kester.
    Excerpts
  • Helping striking coal miners in eastern Tennessee
  • Leaving the Committee on Economic and Racial Justice for the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen
  • Work at Penn School in the 1940s
  • The YWCA Industrial Department and the challenges of organizing women and African American workers
  • Southern Summer School and obstacles to bridging race and class struggles
  • Relationship between the Southern Tenant Farmers Union and schools for labor organization
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Trade-unions--Southern States
  • Southern Summer School for Women Workers in Industry (U.S.)
  • Young Men's Christian associations
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.