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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Burgess, September 25, 1974. Interview E-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Organizing for labor rights springs from religious faith

Burgess's field experiences led him to focus more on the labor movement rather than the organized church. Nevertheless, the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen sought to incorporate labor issues with their faith, due in large part to Franz Daniel.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Burgess, September 25, 1974. Interview E-0001. 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

DAVID BURGESS:
Yes, when we were visiting another migrant camp. I got another couple to come and work with us, and they eventually took our places. I had only occasionally gone to the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen meetings, but we were pretty removed from most FSC members. I decided in the summer of '47, when I had my 30th birthday, that I was closer to the labor movement than I was to the church. It isn't that the church turned their back on me in any way . . . I just felt that basically working with this group of people who were rootless and in a way without much future, you had to concentrate on youth to be effective. I had always preferred to work with adults. And I also thought that the labor movement itself was much more of a viable thing. Then, on the positive side, I was asked by Franz Daniel who was in charge of the CIO Organizing Drive for South Carolina to join. Now Franz, you know, was a Union Seminary graduate. He was part of the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen. He appeared to be the coming labor leader of the CIO in the South.
BILL FINGER:
Where was he located?
DAVID BURGESS:
He was located near Spartanburg, South Carolina.
BILL FINGER:
Working for the CIO?
DAVID BURGESS:
Well, he was in charge of the whole southern drive for all of South Carolina, and he employed me at $50 a week. He was a 1929 Union Seminary graduate, along with Myles Horton. He went in the labor movement and Myles set up the Highlander Folk School. And I think three people, Kester, Franz Daniel, and H.L. Mitchell probably had a very important influence on my life in the South.