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Don West (educator)

Don West (born Donald Lee West) (June 6, 1906 – September 29, 1992)[1] was an American writer, poet, educator, trade union organizer, civil-rights activist and a co-founder of the Highlander Folk School.

Contents

  • Early life and career 1
  • Radical and poet 2
  • Later life 3
  • Sources 4
  • Selected works 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and career

West was born in Devil's Hollow, Kennesaw, Georgia.

Radical and poet

West was often accused of being a Communist,[3] but he denied it. In an interview with the Southern Oral History Program, he said, "I have never been a card carrying, dues paying member of the communist party... But I have worked closely with people whom I knew to be communist. And I would never red-bait."[4]

He devoted himself to writing, lectures, and social causes. These included the defense of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. Forced to leave Oglethorpe during the period of Red-baiting, he continued to edit religious publications and teach creative writing. He testified before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in Memphis, Tennessee. He was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee but never testified. In the 1940s, his collection of poetry, Clods of Southern Earth, became a literary phenomenon when it sold tens of thousands of copies. He appeared as the character "Tod North" in Clancy Sigal's novel Going Away(1961).

Later life

In 1964, West and his wife, Connie West, invested in the establishment of the Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, Summers County, West Virginia. One of their two daughters was Hedy West (1938–2005), a well-known folksinger. West died in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1992.

Sources

  • James J. Lorence, Biography from the New Georgia Encyclopedia [1]
  • "A Radical of Long Standing," by Sheryl James, St. Petersburg Times, 1989 [2]
  • James J. Lorence, A Hard Journey: The Life of Don West (University of Illinois Press, 2007). ISBN 978-0-252-03231-8

Selected works

  • Crab-Grass (poetry) (1931)
  • Songs for Southern Workers: Songbook of the Kentucky Workers Alliance. (1937; reprinted, Huntington, WV: Appalachian Movement Press, 1973)
  • Clods of Southern Earth (poetry, drawings by Harold Price) (New York: Boni and Gaer, 1946)
  • No Lonesome Road: Selected Prose and Poems, ed. by Jeff Biggers and George Brosi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004)

References

  1. ^ The West Virginia Encyclopedia
  2. ^
  3. ^ Federal Bureau of Investigation, Highlander Folk School, FOI release
  4. ^ Interview with Don West, January 22, 1975. Interview E-0016. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Documenting the American South (DocSouth), University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jacquelyn Hall and Ray Faherty, interviewers.

External links

  • Appalachian South Folklife Center
  • Highlander Research and Education Center
  • No Lonesome RoadReview of
  • Oral History Interview with Don West from Oral Histories of the American South

Don West's FBI files obtained through the FOIA and hosted at the Internet Archive

  • Headquarters file part 1
  • Headquarters file part 2
  • Headquarters file part 3
  • Headquarters file part 4
  • Headquarters file part 5
  • Headquarters file part 6
  • Headquarters file part 7
  • Headquarters file part 8
  • Headquarters file part 9
  • Headquarters file part 10
  • Headquarters file part EBF235
  • Pittsburgh office file part 1
  • Pittsburgh office file part 2
  • Pittsburgh office file part 3
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