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Virginia Durr and her work with Anne Braden

October 26, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Historical Decades, Historiography, Intellectual history, Political history, Social history

Virginia and Clifford Durr
Virginia and Clifford Durr, courtesy of Birmingham Public Library Archives

Virginia Durr was born into a white, privileged family and received her education from a small college in the northeast United States.  So how did someone such as herself become an active leader against segregation and racism in the south?

She was born in Birmingham, Alabama and moved back there after college.  There she met her husband as well but they moved to Washington, D.C. and became inspired by the New Deal.  In didn’t take long for Durr to become aquainted to her new home as she joined the Women’s National Democratic Club and worked with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to get the poll tax abolished.  Ms. Durr also ran for Senate in the state of Virginia and was one of the founding members of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare (SCHW).

Her Kentucky ties lie within her friendship with Anne Braden, a southern white female activist for civil rights.  Ms. Durr became friends with Braden after Braden had learned through Durr of a 1958 group of white Montgomery churchwomen who had arranged an interracial meeting but were forced to stop due to the harrassment they received.  The women were subjected to obscene phone calls, denounced as being part of the “communist-jewish conspiracy”, and ostricsized by their own family members.

Both Durr and Braden knew the importance of instilling confidence in the few that went against white racism at the time and began to work together.  It’s intereting how both Durr and Braden found each other and poses the question: did their partnership reflect their southern upbringing? Or did it pertain more to the fact that they shared similar motives and ideals?  Or were these ideals reinforced from their southern upbringing?

www.wikipedia.org/virginia_durr.  wiki group. 13 October 2010.  26 October 2010.

Fosl, Catherine.  Subversive Southerner.  University Press of Kentucky.  Lexington, KY 2002.

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