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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The ways class separated various religious groups

Durr depicts Birmingham society has having not only racial and religious divisions but also economic stratification. She describes how those economic distinctions manifested themselves in religious practice.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I must have gotten up to about fifteen, but as I said, I had begun then to be aware of all the social distinctions, you know, the Jews you couldn't go with and the Negroes, of course, you couldn't go with and the people who lived in these outlying districts, that worked in the steel mills, they just didn't exist. Then even on the South Side, there were social distinctions. The people who belonged to the country club and the people that didn't belong to the country club, people who were Baptists and Methodists and you know, the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians. I had some Methodist friends, because I remember that during that period, I went to Bob Jones's revival in a Methodist church.He asked that anyone stand up who was on the side of the Lord. Well, of course, my father having been a Presbyterian preacher, I just assumed that not only was I on the side of the Lord, I was one of the chosen. So, I stood up. (laughter) And in no time at all, I was down on the mourners bench and they were all praying over me and singing that I had come through and was saved. It embarassed me very much, because I thought, "This is just like those Methodists. They're not like us Presbyterians or the Episcopalians. All of this is common." "Common" was a great word. If anything was "common", it was just terrible. Mother would use that word very often and she would say, "Well, dear, I think that is extremely common." Well, that meant that it was just vulgar. You felt very guilty if you did anything that was common. If you ate too much and your mouth got full and if you didn't use the right fork, whatever you did that wasn't right, it was "common." I just accepted it, of course. Anyway, I remember that I escaped from the Methodis Church as quick as possible, but all my friends thought that I had gotten so much attention that they went down and they got saved all week long.
SUE THRASHER:
What did your father and mother do when you got saved?
VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
Oh, I didn't even tell them because I hadn't really been saved, I had just stood up because they asked who was on the side of the Lord and I was terribly embarassed by all of this.
SUE THRASHER:
So, this was something that they didn't know about.
VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
No, I didn't even tell them about it because I knew that they wouldn't have approved of it. They would have thought that it was common. To be sung over, you know and prayed over and all. Revivals were considered to be common, it was just ordinary, common people that did that kind of thing.