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Willis Duke WeatherfordRace, Religion, and Reform in the American South$
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Andrew McNeill Canady

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168159

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168159.001.0001

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Sowing the Seeds of Southern Liberalism

Sowing the Seeds of Southern Liberalism

Chapter:
(p.71) 3 Sowing the Seeds of Southern Liberalism
Source:
Willis Duke Weatherford
Author(s):

Andrew McNeill Canady

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813168159.003.0004

Chapter 3 examines the most important institution that Weatherford guided in his life, the Blue Ridge Assembly (a YMCA summer conference center in Black Mountain, N.C.) and the efforts he made there to improve race relations. Under Weatherford’s guidance in the 1910s and 1920s, the facility hosted African American speakers (among them George Washington Carver, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Robert Russa Moton) and students. These guests always endured some form of segregation during their stays, but their presence and interaction with whites are notable because such events were extremely rare at the time. Indeed, up until 1930 Blue Ridge was one of the few places in the South where such visits could occur and where the topic of race could be discussed. This chapter looks closely at the context of the South at the time, the limits to the programs at Blue Ridge, and why Weatherford did not push harder against segregation. It also illuminates the influence of this institution on a growing number of white liberals of the next era and how this place sowed the seeds of their activism. Finally, it explores the changing procedures Weatherford and Blue Ridge employed in handling racial issues.

Keywords:   Blue Ridge Assembly, race relations, George Washington Carver, Robert Russa Moton, religion, Black Mountain College, Commission on Interracial Cooperation

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