By Virginia Foster Durr
Virginia Foster Durr is the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, and she or he used to be raised in Birmingham through the early years of this century. She attended Wellesley for 2 years, until eventually her family’s conditions made it very unlikely for her to proceed. Virginia’s sister Josephine married Hugo Black; and in 1926 Virginia married a tender legal professional named Clifford Durr. The Durrs moved to Washington almost immediately after Roosevelt’s inauguration, and Clifford was once one of many “bright younger legal professionals” whom the recent president relied upon to draft the laws constructing the hot Deal. After international warfare II the Durrs moved to Denver, then to Montgomery, the place Clifford grew to become one of many few white attorneys to symbolize blacks in civil rights situations. in the course of the Durrs’ Washington years Virginia have been energetic within the circulate to abolish the ballot tax and in to her liberal motives; and again in Montgomery, she shared Clifford’s dedication to the civil rights circulate and served as an suggestion to liberals of either races.
Virginia Durr has succeeded in articulating the pleasures and the problems of transforming into up woman within the lively younger urban of Birmingham; the broadening (and in many ways additionally restricting) of younger women’s highbrow horizons and social existence at Wellesley; and the thrill of the courtship and marriage of a formal younger Southern lady of excellent relations and negative condition. She brings to lifestyles the social and political weather of Washington through the New Deal and warfare years, the place her shut connection to Justice Black gave the Durrs entry to humans whom they may not have come to understand another way. A sufferer of McCarthyism, Clifford back with Virginia to Montgomery without task and few clients. Their selection to turn into engaged within the civil rights fight used to be in line with their lifelong dedication to stick with their consciences, whatever the social and financial consequences.
“Virginia Durr acknowledged it: there have been 3 ways for a good brought-up younger Southern white lady to go.
She may be the actress, taking part in out the stereotype of the Southern belle. Gracious to ‘the coloured help,’ flirtatious to her robust better half's father, and delivering a candy, profitable smile to the area. In brief, going with the wind.
If she had a spark of independence or worse, creativity, she may perhaps cross crazy—on the darkish, shadowy road traveled via multiple Southern belle.
Or she may be the insurgent. She may possibly step open air the magic circle, abandon privilege, and problem this manner of lifestyles. Ostracism, bruised of every kind, and defamation will be her lot. Her gift will be a very tested existence. And an international she might another way by no means have known.” — from the Foreword by means of Studs Terkel
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Additional info for Outside the Magic Circle: The Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr
Sometimes my grandmother would take us to the little town of Union Springs. I got the idea at that time that she owned the town. She had two carriages besides two or three buggies. One carriage was an open carriage, a Victoria, and she had matched bay horses. She had a coachman named Washington who wore a high silk hat. Grandmother Foster was the biggest, richest person in town. She wouldn't even go into the stores. The people who ran the stores would come out to the buggy or the carriage and ask her what she wanted and bring out the things.
I bashed the cake in and was put to bed again. By that time, the seventh birthday was pretty well shot, cake and all. That night at the supper table, my aunt said I was the worst child she had ever known. " I was sitting right there listening to her, so I took a knife and threw it at her. Well, I was really a disgrace then, so they sent me away from the table. I went out to the back porch and sat in Nursie's lap. We could hear Aunt May through the window saying, "Annie, the trouble with Virginia is that nurse.
Prohibition was a great political issue in the South for years, and I remember Uncle Malcolm's coming to our house in Birmingham and speaking on prohibition at a meeting in the city auditorium. I never knew Uncle Malcolm well at all. Even my mother never got on too well with him. She always said Malcolm was a very self-absorbed man, and he was. He was a man who led his own life and his own career, a brilliant man but very self-absorbed. All the Pattersons went to the Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis, and that's where my mother met my father.