Virginia Durr: Decca was visiting usand doing an article for Esquire on the you-alls and non you-alls. It was a take-off on her sister's book in England about the U's and non-U's -- how to tell the upper class from the lower class. It was supposed to be a rather light piece. She'd been pursuing rather frivolous aspects of Southern life that whole week...
were right to be concerned. The riot was spinning out of control. An observer representing Attorney General Robert Kennedy was laying in the middle of the street, clubbed unconcious. A judge and the Alabama Attorney General arrived but stood on the sidelines, gleefully rubbing their hands as the Freedom Riders were beaten by the fine citizens of Montgomery.
When the crowd dispersed -- on its own, without intervention of police -- Decca and Virginia returned home. While Virginia was shaking so much that she couldn't drive, Decca was "absoluely thrilled," according to Durr. "She was having the time of her life. Our reactions were diametrically opposite. She was onto a great story. She'd seen it with her own eyes."
Soon they learned that Martin Luther King had arrived in Montgomery, and was planning a rally that night at Ralph Abernathy's Baptist church. Decca was determined to attend.
Virginia Durr: Decca put on her Southern costume -- a lovely sort of fluffy green hat with chiffon on it and pearls around her neck and white gloves and a green chiffon dress. She said, "Nobody would think of attacking me. I look like a perfect Southern lady." I said, "That's exactly why you might get attacked. What would a perfect Southern lady be doing going to this Freedom Rider meeting?" Well, she paid no attention whatever. [A friend and Decca] rode off together in the Buick...
The Making of a Muckraker
All Rights Reserved.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to reproduce.