Auburn University at Montgomery will welcome Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning media contributor, veteran political strategist and New York Times bestselling author Donna Brazile as its 2023 Clifford & Virginia Durr Lecturer.
Brazile will discuss the process of building unity in an era of polarization, as well as the role of civil liberties and civic virtue in society, on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m. at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Guests are encouraged to register in advance to reserve a seat.
“When AUM faculty and staff established an endowment to bring the Durr Lecture Series to life in 1992, they did so with the goal of bringing nationally recognized speakers to Montgomery who could offer valuable perspective on civil liberties, social justice and history,” AUM Chancellor Carl A. Stockton said. “Donna Brazile’s unique experiences as the first African-American woman to manage a major party presidential campaign, a frequent media contributor and acclaimed author make her an ideal fit. She has spoken extensively on the subject of restoring civility in American politics, which remains an incredibly relevant and necessary topic.”
Brazile currently serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee and has contributed to a variety of media outlets, including ABC News, USA Today and The Grio. She ran the campaign of former Vice President Al Gore and served as interim chair of the DNC, as well as its Voting Rights Institute. Her books include the 2004 best-selling memoir, “Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics,” and the 2017 New York Times best-seller “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.”
In 2019, Brazile earned an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction. Brazile serves as chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Previously, Brazile served as the King Endowed Chair of Public Policy at Howard University and as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. Brazile also has a number of acting credits, including cameo appearances on CBS’ “The Good Wife” and Netflix’s “House of Cards.”
The Durr Lecture Series honors the joint legacy of two Alabamians who played prominent roles in advancing and protecting civil rights. Clifford Durr, an Alabama civil rights lawyer, arranged to have Rosa Parks released on bail in 1955 after she was charged with violating the city’s bus segregation ordinance. This arrest led to the Montgomery bus boycott. He also defended activists accused of disloyalty during the New Deal and McCarthy eras and was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to serve on the Federal Communications Commission.
His wife, Virginia Foster Durr, founded the Southern Conference for Human Welfare, an interracial group focused on reducing segregation and improving living conditions in the South. Working with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, she lobbied for legislation to abolish poll taxes and worked with political leaders to gain support for the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Among the previous Clifford & Virginia Durr Lecture Series speakers hosted by AUM have been Lady Bird Johnson, Art Buchwald, Fred Gray, Studs Terkel, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Bryan Stevenson and Cornel West.