Virginia Foster Durr

Virginia Foster Durr

American human rights activist and lobbyist
Date of Birth: 06.08.1903
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Virginia Foster Durr
  2. Political Career
  3. Civil Rights Activism
  4. Legacy

Biography of Virginia Foster Durr

Virginia Foster Durr, an American civil rights activist and lobbyist, was born on August 6, 1903, in Birmingham, Alabama. She grew up in Birmingham and attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, but had to leave due to financial difficulties. Upon returning to Birmingham, Virginia met her future husband, lawyer and Rhodes Scholar recipient Clifford Durr. In 1933, the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where they became involved in President Roosevelt's New Deal economic program. Clifford worked for the independent government agency RFC, while Virginia joined the Women's National Democratic Club. In 1938, she became one of the founding members of the interracial group SCHW, which fought against segregation in the southern United States. Working alongside First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Durr lobbied for the repeal of the poll tax.

Political Career

In 1948, Virginia Durr ran for the United States Senate from Virginia as a candidate of the Progressive Party. She advocated for equal rights for all citizens and believed that taxpayer money should be better used to ensure a secure standard of living in the United States instead of funding war and militarization. Her competitors in the Senate race were Democrat Absalom Willis Robertson, Republican Robert H. Woods, Socialist Clarke T. Robbe, and independent political activist Howard Carwile.

Civil Rights Activism

In 1951, Virginia and her husband moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where she became acquainted with local civil rights activists. They organized a group of people who gathered in a church for meetings, regardless of their race. This sparked numerous protests both within the local community and within the church itself. In her autobiography, Durr describes how opponents of the interracial union recorded the license plate numbers of women from the integrated church and published them in an Alabama Ku Klux Klan magazine. The women began receiving threatening phone calls, and some members of their families publicly disavowed them for fear of losing their businesses. As a result, the frightened women stopped gathering together.

Virginia Durr actively supported sit-in demonstrations against racial discrimination and was involved in the activities of the Freedom Riders organization. She and her husband provided lodging for students who arrived from the North to participate in protests. After her husband's death in 1975, Durr continued her active involvement in state and local politics until old age.


In 1985, Virginia Durr published her autobiography, "Outside the Magic Circle." She passed away on February 24, 1999, at the age of 96. Upon hearing of Durr's death, Rosa Parks remarked that despite her privileged upbringing, Durr was never deterred from her pursuit of equality for all people. Parks described her as intelligent and a true lady, stating that she would be missed.

In 2006, Virginia Foster Durr was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame.