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Oral history interview with Elizabeth and Courtney Siceloff, July 8, 1985

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Creator:Siceloff, Elizabeth, 1922-2003
Creator:Siceloff, Courtney
Creator:Blanchard, Dallas A.
Creator:Southern Oral History Program
Title:Oral history interview with Elizabeth and Courtney Siceloff, July 8, 1985
Date:1985 July 8

Elizabeth Siceloff began working with the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen (FSC) in 1945. Courtney Siceloff joined the organization after the two were married in 1949. Elizabeth served as a secretary for the FSC, while Courtney served as a minister with the organization. Coming from the Presbyterian and Methodist faiths respectively, the FSC blurred denominational lines. The Siceloffs describe the FSC as concerned with promoting the social gospel through worker education and economic justice. In 1950, they were assigned to the Penn School on Saint Helena Island, South Carolina, where they remained until 1969. During this time, civil rights leaders utilized the Penn School's interracial facilities. The Siceloffs discuss the shortcomings of the Fellowship and the problems with activist work. Despite the social purpose of the Fellowship, few females and blacks were appointed to executive positions. Elizabeth also acknowledges the difficulty of FSC work, as members had to weigh economic stability against following their consciences. Furthermore, much of the local press and several southern states opposed the work of the FSC. The Siceloffs discuss the theological divide within the organization and note that gender and generational tensions within the FSC were also a source of tension until Nelle Morton began working to eliminate cliques. The Siceloffs have high regard for Morton, who helped bolster the organizational strength of the FSC through a focus on strengthening its financial standing. After Morton's tenure, Howard "Buck" Kester took over. They describe Kester as a Christian renegade who focused more on promoting work camps than on bolstering the FSC organization. The Siceloffs describe how Kester and Myles Horton established Highlander Folk School but went different ways because of ideological differences. This separation was indicative of a larger, growing divide among FSC members, who debated whether the purpose and mission of the Fellowship was to continue field work or to focus on an organizational agenda.

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 (document genres) | Text | Sound
Subjects:Siceloff, Elizabeth, 1922-2003 | Siceloff, Courtney | Fellowship of Southern Churchmen | Women civil rights workers | Women civil rights workers--Southern States | Civil rights workers--Southern States | Church and social problems--Southern States | Social justice--Southern States--Religious aspects--Christianity | Civil rights movements--Southern States | Penn School (Saint Helena Island, S.C.) | United States, South Carolina, Beaufort County, Saint Helena Island, 32.3868607, -80.5606622 | Southern States, 33.346678, -84.119434
Collection:Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)
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Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/F-0039/menu.html