Waters to detail lives of lesser-known civil rights heroines

Published 6:55 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The High Horse Gallery is home to more than enlightening works of art, but enlightening ideas, as well.

Mollie Waters, English, speech and theater instructor at LBW Community College, will be presenting “Disobedient Women: Angelina Grimké, Virginia Foster Durr and the Pursuit of Equality” at the High Horse Gallery on March 6.

The program will discuss the titular Angelina Grimké and Virginia Foster Durr, two abolitionists who were born under drastically different circumstances who were nonetheless inspired to take up the same cause.

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Grimké was a 19th-century political activist and advocate of the women’s suffrage movement as well as the abolition of slavery, despite the fact that her family owned a plantation and slaves in South Carolina.

Durr, born in Montgomery, Ala., similarly grew up on a plantation where she witnessed her own share of injustice.

Durr would go on to fight for the abolishment of the Poll Tax, which kept poor whites, women and blacks from voting, and would befriend Rosa Parks and aid in the civil rights movement.

Waters said that it was the startling similarities between the two women that led to her desire to make their stories known.

“These two women, born nearly 100 years apart, fought against the injustices of their time, and for their efforts, they were ostracized and even threatened for standing up for their beliefs,” Waters said.

“I admire that they were willing to defy what was acceptable, and in order to do so, they had to “disobey” standards of the time.

“Unfortunately, their contributions are little known to modern audiences, which is a great disservice considering what they did for the betterment of America.  My goal is to bring awareness of their roles in the movements of their times.”

“Disobedient Women” is the first presentation given in Waters’ capacity as an Alabama Humanities Foundation Speakers Bureau Roads Scholar.

When Waters was awarded the honor back in January, High Horse Gallery owner Mary McKinley asked her if she’d like to present her first program right here in the Camellia City.

“As she said, the opportunity will give me a chance to preview the program before a supportive, hometown group before I take the show on the road, so to speak,” Waters said.

“I am so grateful to Mary for doing this for me.  She’s a good friend and a wonderful asset to our community.”

But “Disobedient Women” isn’t geared toward any particular audience.

According to Waters, anyone who has an interest in history will gain something from the presentation, as well as those intrigued by the roles of everyday people in the shaping of our past, present and future.

“When it comes down to it, the contributions of the common man or woman to any great event often gets lost in the shuffle, but they should not be forgotten,” Waters said.

“I hope sharing the stories of these two women with audiences will inspire people to learn more about other “disobedient women” and men who stood their ground in the face of adversity.”

The presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.