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Interview with Linda Fuller Degelmann, December 4, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:17 - Journey to Koinonia

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Partial Transcript: Mrs. Linda thanks for being here today.

Segment Synopsis: Fuller details how it was to grow up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and later live in Montgomery, Alabama. She describes family tension over her husband's excessive work and how it led to a reformation of their lives. She talks about moving to Koinonia Farm, a Christian farming community.

Keywords: Affordable housing; Habitat for Humanity; Mission Work; Missionary; Philanthropy

00:06:23 - Arriving at Koinonia Farms

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Segment Synopsis: Fuller describes how Koinonia Farm's history with violent, racist members of the community forced them to move their agriculture business from small markets to mail-order, in the effort to appeal to a larger client base. She details her first experience at Koinonia and how talking with Clarence Jordan and others that lived there made her feel as if she was on God's path.

Keywords: Clarence Jordan; Drive by shootings; God; Koinonia Farms; Pecans; racism

00:11:10 - Koinonia partners / Origins of Koinonia Farms

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Partial Transcript: Uhh, Miller to a job raising money for a black college...

Segment Synopsis: Degelman lists the community initiatives made by Koinonia Partners (an outreaching branch of Koinonia Farms) and the motivation behind their mission. She describes the hypocrisy between the Christian teachings and how people of color were treated in the south, particularly in Georgia. She talks about her interactions with people in Americus when they found out she was helping out in Koinonia Farms.

Keywords: Christianity; Clarence Jordan; community service

00:15:43 - Establishing Habitat for Humanity in Koinonia

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Partial Transcript: And another thing that happened when we came back from Africa...

Segment Synopsis: Degelmann discusses establishing the first Habitat for Humanity office in the Sumter County (Georgia) area. She talks about moving into a new house in town and the harassment her family experienced from their new neighbors because of their origination from Koinonia. She explains how her unexpected reaction to the harassment helped open the eyes of the townsfolk to see her character.

Keywords: Habitat for Humanity; Koinonia Farms; Sumter County; prejudice

00:22:29 - Civil Rights in Sumter County

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Partial Transcript: It's been amazing to see the changes that have taken place in this community.

Segment Synopsis: Degelmann describes some of the discrimination faced by members of Koinonia for their progressive, pro-integration views. She explains how her husband worked in law to fight discrimination in the police for both African Americans and women during the '70s. Degelmann talks about further Civil Rights movements that took place in Sumter County and the poor condition of infrastructure in the area.

Keywords: Civil Rights; Sumter County; boycotts; discrimination; infrastructure

00:29:21 - The integration of Sumter County / Historic preservation projects

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Partial Transcript: That was part of the transformation...

Segment Synopsis: Degelmann details the integration process in Sumter Count schools and industry in the 1970s. She talks about issues regarding the preservation of Windsor Hotel in Americus and how it revitalized the downtown area. Degelmann recalls some of the remnants of segregation in Sumter County.

Keywords: Americus, Georgia; Georgia Southwestern University; Russell Thomas; Rylander Theater; Winsdor Hotel

00:36:19 - Integration (cont.) / Community service programs

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Partial Transcript: It may have been some kind of laws...

Segment Synopsis: Degelmann talks about integration and the changes that have occurred in Sumter County over the years. She describes an organization she worked in called Visions for Sumter, and other community service programs meant to improve the lives of those living in Sumter. Degelmann explains how her work in the community led to the development of Sumter County Initiative, an initiative created to combat substandard housing in Sumter County.

Keywords: GED; Habitat for Humanity; Sumter County Initiative; Visions for Sumter; integration

00:43:11 - Sumter County Initiative

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Partial Transcript: A committee was organized

Segment Synopsis: Degelmann shares the history behind the formation of the Sumter County Initiative to end substandard housing in the area. Degelmann recalls the actions that led to the end of substandard housing in Sumter through both the Sumter County Initiative and Habitat for Humanity.

Keywords: HUDD (Housing and Urban Development); Habitat for Humanity; Judge Georgia M. Peagler; The Fuller Center for Housing; substandard housing

00:48:59 - Leaving Habitat for Humanity / Starting the Fuller Center for Housing

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Partial Transcript: Millard and I left Habitat in 2005...

Segment Synopsis: Degelmann describes her leaving of Habitat for Humanity and her later decision to create The Fuller Center for Housing with her husband, Millard Fuller. She then talks about the death of her husband and her later marriage to Paul Degelmann. Degelmann reflects on her life and her love for Sumter.

Keywords: Americus; Habitat for Humanity; Paul Degelmann; The Fuller Center for Housing