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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, February 6, 1991. Interview A-0337. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Civil rights movement attracts only elite whites

While Durr concedes that much of the white participation in the civil rights movement was on the part of members of the upper-class, she notes that Lyndon Johnson, who was not from a wealthy background, did the most of any white person in the push for civil rights for African Americans.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, February 6, 1991. Interview A-0337. 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

JOHN EGERTON:
That's right. It was out of a southern tradition of noblise oblisse or patrician feelings. All of you had come out of a cultural experience that tried to rise above the meanness of segregation. And you all were idealistic people, trying to improve the world. But it was essentially an upper middle class, white effort, wasn't it, by and large?
VIRGINIA DURR:
Well, it certainly was, no doubt about it. On the other hand, the person who really did the most to change the South was Lyndon Johnson, which was the vote and the federal thing. Lyndon wasn't upper class at all. Country boy, grown up in the hills. And I don't think he had though very much about segregation. I think that Bird maybe might have influenced him some, but I don't think he thought about race at all. Because, you see, he lived up there where there wasn't. . . .
JOHN EGERTON:
But he ended up being the one who did the most.
VIRGINIA DURR:
That's right. He ended up being the one who did the most. I always thought Bird helped him. She never talked about it, but I always thought she did.