Virginia Foster Durr (1903-1999) was a monumental champion of civil rights and yet, as a privileged white southern woman, an unlikely one. Freedom Writer is a collection of her letters from across three decades of struggle for the cause of racial equality. In 1951, returning to her native Alabama after a twenty-year absence, Durr was deeply affronted by the same unchecked racism she recalled from her childhood. To help understand the South and battle her sense of isolation, Durr wrote hundreds of letters–humorous, sharp, and observant–to her friends outside the region, among them Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, Hugo Black, Jessica Mitford, and C. Vann Woodward.
Durr often wrote from the movement’s front lines–the sit-ins, freedom rides, and student protests. Moving in the same circles as Rosa Parks, E. D. Nixon, Martin Luther King Jr., and others, Durr often put her life on the line as a bridge between blacks and whites during dangerous times. Countless details of this personal journey, and the shifting political landscape across which it unfolded, found their way into Durr’s correspondence.
Originally published on the one hundredth anniversary of Durr’s birth, Freedom Writer explores the life and times of a woman whose insatiable appetite for justice immersed her in many of the defining issues and events of the day.
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