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Linda Stout interviewed by Kelly Anderson, July 19–20, 2004

 File — Box: 56
Link to transcript of Linda Stout interview
Link to transcript of Linda Stout interview
Link to video
Link to video

Scope and Contents

In this oral history Stout describes in detail her family background and the rural, low-income communities of the Piedmont region in North Carolina. The interview focuses on her work in civil rights and peace movements in the South, her anti-Klan organizing and the dangers of activism in the South, and the politics of class. She describes the impulse behind the Piedmont Peace Project and the ground-breaking ways in which the organization operates. Stout describes the role of her organization and those of working-class peoples in the larger national peace movement. The conclusion of this interview is a discussion of Stout's latest project, Spirit of Change. (Transcript 94 pp.)

Dates of Materials

  • July 19–20, 2004

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Web Access

At the direction of the narrator, the recording of this interview may only be placed on the web if access is restricted to the Smith College community. Please consult with special collections staff at specialcollections@smith.edu to inquire about the existence of or access to digital copies. The interviewer and narrator for this interview have agreed that the transcript may be placed on the web.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview is open for research use without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

The interviewer and narrator have transferred copyright of this interview to Smith College.

Biographical / Historical

Linda Stout (b.1954) resides in Western Massachusetts but her roots are in the Deep South. She was born to tenant farmers and thirteenth-generation Quakers in North Carolina. Stout's way out of rural North Carolina was going to be a good education and college, but a life of poverty and limited choices intervened: family hardship, lack of self-confidence, and financial trouble. Stout was raised with a social conscience and in the Quaker tradition. Being employed in the mills allowed her to see racism at work and she became engaged in social change. In her early twenties, Stout and her sister moved to Charleston, where she worked for a civil rights law firm as a secretary and was exposed to articulations of injustice and a variety of strategies for social change. She was involved in a women's group organizing around ERA and abortion rights, but while she identified with the issues, Stout felt shunned in the context of this group for her class background.

The peace movement is where Stout would find a comfortable home. She organized Friends Meetings in Charleston, offered military draft counseling services, started a peace group, and was making the connections between military spending and poverty. In her effort to organize the low-income community, she met Septima Clark, a significant figure in Stout's story and civil rights history. Family crises brought Stout back to the Piedmont region in North Carolina; she is best known for the project she founded there, the Piedmont Peace Project (PPP), a low-income, multiracial organizing project that makes connections between local and national issues. The PPP has had many successful campaigns, including voter registration and mobilization, literacy, lobbying, peace work around the Gulf War, housing, water and sewer services for low-income neighborhoods. In the late 1990s, Stout left North Carolina to take the helm of the Peace Development Fund in Amherst, Massachusetts, and is now the director of a new project, Spirit of Change.