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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nancy Kester Neale, August 6, 1983. Interview F-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Buck Kester helped create a social justice movement in the American South

Neale reflects on Kester's legacy. While she does not think the results of Kester's work are visible in the contemporary South, she believes that his efforts affected southerners' lives and set a precedent for church leadership on economic and racial justice.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nancy Kester Neale, August 6, 1983. Interview F-0036. 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

DALLAS BLANCHARD:
Looking back now, I was born in 1933, I grew up in sort of the same society as you did. I lived in the black belt in Alabama for a couple of long years and I drive back through that section now and I am really struck by the changes. And so few people are really aware of what life was like, even the black young people. It is a different world. Looking back on all of that, what kind of impact did Buck Kester and that group have? What contribution did they make to where we are today?
NANCY KESTER NEALE:
Well it depends on if you see things discretely or in a continuous line. I tend to see everything connected. Obviously the organization was not a major contribution factor in the south today as far now. But at the time several of the organizations like the Economic and Racial Justice which paid his salary and kept them functioning for quite a while so that they could move into the fellowship and develop that whole Union stuff going along. I think besides effecting peoples lives, it sort of set a precident, for southeners to always react to their surroundings and not always feeling acted upon. I think southeners often have that kind of feeling where they have been acted upon, whether it was the civil war, or whether it was other kinds of experiences, it was sort of like life was too much to do much about. But I really think it was like my dad often said, in as much as everyone else is saying, the church is the one place where things that we have got the best shot that we have got through making changes at the church, institutional church related like the fellowship. And we have to try.