- Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
- Oral history interview with Don West, January 22, 1975
- West, Don
- Contributor to Resource:
- Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd
Southern Oral History Program
- Date of Original:
- Political activists--Southern States
Social reformers--Southern States
Labor movement--Southern States
Labor unions--Organizing--Southern States
Labor unions and communism--Southern States
Civil rights movements--Southern States
Social reformers--Crimes against--Southern States
- West, Don, 1906-1992
- United States, North Carolina, Gaston County, 35.29437, -81.18025
United States, North Carolina, Gaston County, Gastonia, 35.26208, -81.1873
United States, Southern States, 33.346678, -84.119434
United States, Tennessee, Fentress County, 36.38049, -84.93246
United States, Tennessee, Fentress County, Wilder, 36.26618, -85.09051
oral histories (literary works)
- Activist, leftist, poet, and ordained minister Don West remembers a lifetime of union and civil rights activism in this interview. West's father, determined to give his children the education he never had, left his home in the mountains of Georgia for cotton country, hoping to support his family with sharecropping and send his children to local schools. West's family brought mountain values with them when they left their home, and those values -- independence, respect, hard work, and faith -- shaped West's life as a Christian left-wing activist. West worked his way through his undergraduate and graduate education, earning a doctoral degree in divinity from Vanderbilt University while acting as a labor organizer in high-profile strikes, including the 1929 cotton mill strike in Gastonia, North Carolina, and the coal strike in Wilder, Tennessee. West describes some of his experiences in union organizing. Hounded by local and federal law enforcement, as well as by journalists and even members of the Communist Party, West moved from community to community, allying himself with unions and other organizations across the South, infiltrating mines and meeting with governors, distributing literature, and teaching. This interview offers a detailed description of activism and organizing in the South of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, a region torn between traditions of white supremacy and anti-unionism and the need for social and economic progress.
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.
- Metadata URL:
- Title from menu page (viewed on Nov. 14, 2008).
Interview participants: Don West, interviewee; Jacquelyn Hall, interviewer; Ray Faherty, interviewer.
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.
- Contributing Institution:
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)