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Women’s Hall of Fame announces inducteescomment (0)

January 5, 2006


Two determined women — one an advocate for civil rights and the other an advocate for literacy — will be inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame  (AWHF) March 9.
   
Virginia Foster Durr worked with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to abolish the poll tax and with Rosa Parks and others in Montgomery to advance the cause of civil rights. 
   
Upon her death, The Atlanta Constitution called Durr a true moral authority and the “white matron” of the civil rights movement.
   
Born in 1903 in Birmingham, Virginia Foster was educated in New York and Washington and was part of the class of 1925 of Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She married Clifford Durr of Montgomery and moved with him to Washington to work in the Roosevelt administration. 
   
In addition to her opposition to the poll tax, Durr worked to advance women’s rights and other civil rights issues.
   
Both Durrs worked alongside the black citizens of Montgomery following the arrest of Parks in 1955, and their home became a “safe house” for black students attending nearby Sidney Lanier High School.
   
President Bill Clinton remarked at the time of Durr’s death, “Her courage, outspokenness and steely conviction in the earliest days of the civil rights movement helped change this nation forever.”
   
Mary Celesta Weatherly of Fort Payne founded the DeKalb County Library in 1930 and was a strong proponent of literacy, education, volunteerism and the preservation of history in the Fort Payne area.
   
Born in Hollywood, Ala., in 1890, Mary Johnson studied at the University of Montevallo and married George Weatherly Sr. in 1911. 
   
After moving to Fort Payne in 1919, Weatherly taught in the city school for a number of years before founding the county library, where she served as president and volunteer librarian.  
   
Active in First Baptist Church, Fort Payne, in Marshall Baptist Association, she taught Sunday School, Royal Ambassadors and served as president of the Woman’s Missionary Union. Weatherly was a charter member and president of the Fort Payne Woman’s Club, president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and an active member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy for approximately 50 years. She also served on the Fort Payne City Board of Education and organized the first literacy school in the area in the late 1950s.  
   
Weatherly’s other volunteer projects included the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society and helping compile the first hardbound pictorial history of DeKalb County in 1971.
   
The mother of three, she was named Woman of the Year by the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce in 1951 and Alabama’s Mother of the Year in 1962. 
   
The same year, Weatherly was named the American Mother of the Year — the only Alabamian to receive this national recognition to date.
   
“It was an honor to be a part of selecting two women who demonstrated remarkable strength of character for the 35th anniversary induction of the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame,” said AWHF board Chairman Cathy Randall of Tuscaloosa.
   
The hall of fame is in the A. Howard Bean Hall on the campus of Judson College in Marion. (JC)
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