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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Burgess, August 12, 1983. Interview F-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Learning about the South from books and people

Burgess recalls some of the works that inspired his own writing on racial justice, including W.J. Cash's <cite>The Mind of the South</cite> and V.O. Key's <cite>Southern Politics in State and Nation</cite>. He then mentions some of his on-the-ground experiences. His style seems to be about making connections&#x2014;between the Old and New Testaments, and also between people.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Burgess, August 12, 1983. Interview F-0006. 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

I think the ability to get away to the conference or the way to think through what I was trying to do, seizing up my opposition and generally it was organized church. I wrote that pamphlet it is somewhere in my file which used by social action on I wrote some education material on the whole question of what is the church and what is the relationship. As my writings the Liston Pope's book on No Town of Preachers was almost well I was a close friend of Liston. And he helped me a lot understand. C.J. Cash's book The Mind of the South which I considered a classic it helped me a lot of facing. Then Key's book on Southern Politics gave me some better understanding. But I think more than intellectual graphs it was human beings that were going through similar strokes, and had a vision of what the south could be. Scotty Cowan and I were very close. Jean Smathers less so, but Jean and I were good friends. And Cox, and I was very close to Nell in a personal sort of way. And she told me go and see so and so when you go through Hendersonville, South Carolina or go and see so and so in Nevada which I did. So it was more I was sort of a visiting fireman as it were but I got a lot of help from other people. But I think that it was the old testament and the new testament connections trying to transform a racial society. And the whole question, this was an intergrated situation. I was living in a segregated society, segregated churches by and large and I was in peril quite often, physical peril, when I was a laborer. And I was threatened, I mean that I was never beaten up or I was never jailed, but it was a constant harassment. And I rather enjoyed it but I was often tired of it at times. My salary with the C.I.O. was 50 dollars a week with travel money. And that is about what we were living on with the church's sparse fare. So I would say that it is healing connections with people who stood for something, who would share their fustrations and their hopes and vice versa.