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Oral history interview with Nelle Morton, June 29, 1983

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Creator:Morton, Nelle, 1905-
Creator:Blanchard, Dallas A.
Title:Oral history interview with Nelle Morton, June 29, 1983
Date:1983 June 29

Nelle Morton grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. In 1925, she graduated from Flora MacDonald College in North Carolina and became a teacher. A few years later, Morton completed graduate work at the General Assembly Training School in Virginia and at the Biblical Seminary in New York City. By 1944, she had become the general secretary of the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen. Prior to assuming leadership within the Fellowship, Morton had worked closely with its founders. In this interview, she spends considerable time discussing her perception of various leaders within the Fellowship, including Howard "Buck" Kester, Thomas "Scotty" Cowan, Charles Johnson, and Reinhold Niebuhr. According to Morton, the Fellowship was founded in order to promote more radical ideas about race relations and integrations among southern churches. In explaining the goals and strategies of the Fellowship, Morton focuses on aspects of religion in the South, the Fellowship's efforts to ensure integration within their own organization, and its stance on other issues related to labor and rural people. Throughout the interview, she emphasizes the communal spirit of the Fellowship and stresses their pioneering work in integration. Particularly interesting examples she offers include her description of an integrated summer camp for children at her family's farm in Kingsport and efforts of the Fellowship to integrate places like community pools. In addition to describing the strategies, successes, and limitations of the Fellowship, Morton describes how her work with the Fellowship made her cognizant of other inequalities related to gender. She describes the challenges of being a woman leader in the Fellowship; these included the discrimination she faced during her tenure as the general secretary from 1944 to 1950. Morton later became actively involved in the women's movement and suggests here that it was her work with issues of race and labor that enabled her to recognize discrimination against, and oppression of, women.

The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

Types:Transcripts | Sound recordings | Oral histories
Subjects:Morton, Nelle, 1905- | Fellowship of Southern Churchmen | Women civil rights workers | Women social reformers--Southern States | Social movements--Religious aspects--Christianity--Southern States | Civil rights movements--Southern States | Civil rights workers--United States | African Americans--Segregation--Southern States | Sex discrimination against women--United States | Southern States
Collection:Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:Southern Oral History Program | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project) | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library | Oral histories of the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project))
Online Publisher:[Chapel Hill, N.C.] : University Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. | 2007
Original Material:

Title from menu page (viewed on Dec. 5, 2008).

Interview participants: Nelle Morton, interviewee; Dallas A. Blanchard, interviewer.

Duration: 03:41:16.

This electronic edition is part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South. It is a part of the collection Oral histories of the American South.

Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner. Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers.

Related Materials:

Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/F-0034/menu.html