Mary Fair Burks
|Mary Fair Burks|
July 31, 1914
|Died||July 21, 1991
|Occupation||civil rights activist, academic|
|Spouse(s)||Nathaniel W. Burks (m. 1946)|
Burks was born in Montgomery, Alabama on July 31, 1914, the son of Gustavus "Gus" Samuel and Ollie (née Williams) Fair. She attended Alabama State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1933, and Michigan State University where she earned a Master of Arts degree in 1934. She was head of the English department at Alabama State College in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1946, she founded the Women's Political Council, an organization that promoted civic involvement, helped increase voter registration, and lobbied city officials to address racist policies. Burks was president of the WPC until 1950, when she decided to step down: "The position was demanding and I had been in office longer than I intended." She continued to be a part of the WPC. In 1955-56, she and other WPC members helped initiate and provide support for the Montgomery bus boycott.
In 1960, Burks resigned from Alabama State College after several professors were fired for their involvement in civil rights issues. She then taught literature at the University of Maryland until her retirement in 1986. Burks was appointed to a National Endowment for the Humanities reviewing panel in 1979. She died on July 21, 1991.
- Burks, Mary Fair. "Women in the Montgomery Bus Boycott." Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers and Torchbearers 1941-1965. Ed. Vicki L. Crawford, Jacqueline Anne Rouse, and Barbara Woods. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993. 71-83.
- King Chronologies. "Burks, Mary Fair."