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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, October 16, 1975. Interview G-0023-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Durr begins to question her racial prejudices

Relationships with women like Mary McLeod Bethune and Mary Church Terrell began to force Virginia to question her racial prejudice. When racial divisions came in the railway unions, the anti-poll tax committee moved offices rather than side with the segregationists.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, October 16, 1975. Interview G-0023-3. 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

VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
Well Mrs. Bethune had formed something then called the Council of Negro Women. And either she came or sent a representative. And often she would come herself. And she was a tremendous help to us because she had very close affiliations you see with Mrs. Roosevelt, and with Mr. Roosevelt, too, but more with Mrs. Roosevelt, I think. And so she would help us get up money. She was a marvelous woman and a great help to us. I told you about Mrs.-the lady that was head of the Republican women there, came from Memphis, my grandfather was her guardian-Mrs. Mary Church Terrell. Well Mrs. Mary Church Terrell you see was head of the Republican Women and Black Republican Women and she lived in Washington for-she was nearly 90 then. She was a remarkable woman; she was a great help to us. She was very, very helpful to us. And then there was the Negro Elks. They were very helpful to us. And there were a lot of Negro church organizations that sent representatives and sent money. But the money, the strongest amount of help and support came from the labor organizations. And I got to know some of them very well. [How much of the politics of the various organizations. For instance, how much were the civil rights organizations pushing for integration affect the union. And did you get into a lot of-the railway workers and the firemen is a good example.] Well yes, it was beginning to come. But of course we got into the firemen's fight very directly because they made this big fight about having all these black, Negroes-they didn't say-the niggers taking up the space in the bathrooms and all. And there was one particularly nasty man whose name I forget, came from Alabama. And he made more trouble than anybody. They were trying to get rid of the Negro firemen because the railway unions who represented them were encouraging us by giving us all this free office space and putting our paper . . . But the issue came down to, the flash point was the bathrooms, of all things. They made all the big fuss about using the same bathroom. So in any case we had to move out.