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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 >>

Labor activism ostracizes Burgess from the larger Presbyterian membership

Burgess's attempt to join a local Presbyterian church resulted in the members' secretive rejection of his labor activism. The largely industrialist church members tied his activism to a charge of Communism. However, the church pastor supported his membership to the church.

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. We moved to Rock Hill, South Carolina with our two kids, aged two and six months. We were ostracized by the community for a while. We applied for membership in the Presbyterian church there. A fellow by the name of Ken Phifer was the pastor. It was a prestige church. Prominent textile owners were members. They thought I was a Communist. I didn't find this out until ten years later. In 1947, Pastor Phifer was told by the members of the session that I ought not to be allowed to join that church because I was a communist and worked for the CIO. So he put his job on the line and said he would quit the church if my wife and I were not allowed to become members.
BILL FINGER:
You said you had known Ken Phifer?
DAVID BURGESS:
No, we went to his church eventually and we became very close personal friends. He didn't tell me this until ten years later. Anyway, he won the fight. I eventually became teacher of the young adults class...