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AUM Presents the

Durr Lecture Series

For nearly 30 years, Auburn University at Montgomery has introduced the River Region community to globally recognized thought leaders and guided conversation about social justice and civil liberties through the Clifford Judkins and Virginia Foster Durr Lecture Series.

Founded in 1992, the Durr Lecture Series has introduced the AUM community to a variety of prominent intellectuals, authors, historians, activists, civic leaders and change agents, including such luminaries as Cornel West, Art Buchwald, Lady Bird Johnson, Fred Gray, Studs Terkel, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Congressman John Lewis. Guest lecturers discuss aspects of the constitutional protection of civil liberties and other timely, relevant issues. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Cornel West Wearing A Suit And Tie
Cornel West Wearing A Suit And Tie
Cornel West Wearing A Suit And Tie
A Man Wearing A Suit And Tie
A Group Of People Standing In Front Of A Crowd
Clark Johnson Holding A Microphone
Ashanti Miller Et Al. Posing For A Photo
Paul K. Chappell Wearing A Suit And Tie
Paul K. Chappell Et Al. Standing In Front Of A Crowd
Vernon Jordan Wearing A Suit And Tie
A Group Of People Sitting In Chairs In Front Of A Crowd
A Man Wearing A Suit And Tie Holding A Gun
A Group Of People Standing In Front Of A Crowd
A Person Wearing A Suit And Tie Standing In A Room
A Group Of People Sitting At A Table
James K. Galbraith Wearing A Suit And Tie
A Person Standing In Front Of A Television

Clifford and Virginia Durr

That fateful day when Rosa Parks was arrested was not where it all began. Ms. Parks long had stirrings that the system was unfair, as indeed it was. Her friendship with Virginia Durr prompted Virginia to obtain for her friend a scholarship to the Highland Folk School in Tennessee. There Rosa Parks experienced true equality and confirmation of her own self-worth.

When the moment came, she was prepared to resist quietly yet another insult to her as a person on this earth. The night of her arrest, Clifford and Virginia went with E. D. Nixon, president of the Montgomery NAACP, to bail Ms. Parks out of the Montgomery jail. Mr. Nixon was afraid that the police would refuse him as a colored person. The next day the news of Ms. Parks’ refusal and arrest spread, and shortly the Bus Boycott began under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the legal front, Fred Gray, a newly admitted attorney, was called to a conference with Ms. Parks and Clifford Durr. It was decided to file an action in the United States District Court challenging racial segregation on city buses, using the principles of constitutional law enunciated in Brown v. Board of Education that separate is not equal under the 14th Amendment in public education, or, as claimed in this new lawsuit, in public transportation. Clifford Durr drafted a petition to the Court, which Fred Gray filed. Virginia’s brother-in-law, Hugo Black, was a sitting member of the United States Supreme Court. They did not want him to recuse himself because Clifford’s name was on the petition, so Fred Gray filed and argued the case. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that segregation in public accommodations was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court approved the 11th Circuit decision without an opinion. The Bus Boycott was won. In all areas of public accommodations, black and white were legally equal. Then came the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Virginia used to tell this story many times. She and Clifford became friends of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson when Lyndon was a freshman Congressman. When Lyndon became president, Virginia pestered him for years to enact a voting rights bill. Virginia and Eleanor Roosevelt long had fought for an end to the poll tax, tests, and other impediments to voting. “When I have the votes, Virginia,” Johnson always replied. He got the votes in 1965.

Click for a Full Bio
Clifford Judkins Durr
Virginia Foster Durr
Past Events

Previous Durr Lectures and Speakers

2023 - Donna Brazile
2018 - Dr. Cornel West
2017 - James Forman Jr
2016 - Clark Johnson
2015 - Paul K. Chappell
2014 - Dr. Steve Hahn
2013 - Vernon Jordan
2012 - Andrew Beck Grace
2011 - Dr. Raymond Arsenault
2010 - James K. Galbraith
2009 - Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson
2008 - Bryan Stevenson
2007 - Jonathan Steele
1992 - W. Thomas Johnson
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