This gentle Quaker couple, Nan and Britt Pendergrast, helped create and sustain the News/Views publications which began in April, 1980. A group from Atlanta Friends Meeting, led by Dwight Ferguson and Nan Pendergrast, selected articles on peace, social justice and environmental protection not usually covered in the local media, then clipped, pasted, printed, labeled and mailed to a subscription list that grew to as many as 500. News/Views continues today, 32 years later, as an online based publication with selections on national and international issues. Nan, longtime editor, is still active as a “voluntary clipper”.
During their 72 years of marriage (and 7 children) Nan and Britt have been active volunteers in matters and causes they consider important. Peace concerns, civil rights, social action, education, amnesty, draft counseling and more—Nan and Britt Pendergrast have been very involved!
Each has served on the boards of countless organizations including Fellowship of Reconciliation (national council), NAACP, Urban League (executive board), Jeannette Rankin Foundation Advisory Board, American Friends Service Committee, BEM (Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace) and H.E.A.T. (Heat and Energy Assistance Teams). They supported and were active with Atlantans for Peace, Nuclear Watch, Test Ban Treaty, tutoring and food delivery with Emmaus House, FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation), HOPE, Planned Parenthood Atlanta, Georgia Council on Human Relations. Nan was a leader of HOPE (Help Our Public Education) during Georgia’s desegregation crisis. HOPE adopted many creative tactics to demonstrate white support for keeping the public schools open:“My particular job was talking to the Kiwanis and the Rotarians and the Civitans who at that time would never have allowed a black person in their door and probably not allowed anybody who was known to consort with those people. We had 7 children who were in the public schools for at least some part of their career”.
On the day of integration of Atlanta Public Schools (Aug. 31,1961), Nan remembers, “I awakened that morning with my heart in my throat wondering what would happen and worrying about, of course, the transfer students themselves.”
Britt, a conscientious objector during WWII, was active in the Draft Counseling Program at Quaker House during the Vietnam War. By the end of 1970, when the Supreme Court decision allowed nonreligious conscientious objectors to qualify for CO status, counselors were very busy, available four nights a week, three hours each.
Britt and Nan also served together on the Board of the Friends School of Atlanta where Britt was Clerk of the Finance Committee. These avid gardeners, in addition to tending their own large home garden, have done planting and gardening at the Meeting and continue to contribute a beautiful floral centerpiece to Meeting for Worship each Sunday. Their contributions in so many areas are a model of voluntary service. Britt passed away in 2016.
You can purchase an oral history of the Pendergrasts which was published in 2011, which is a compilation of interviews collected from their seven children.