Muriel West Durley
Muriel West Durley was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her family moved to Hempstead, Long Island, New York when she was very young. She grew up on Long Island where she was very involved in community activities such as the Harriett Tubman House, which assisted young African-American women transition from the South to the North.
Her love and desire to help African Americans become the best that they could be dictated that she enroll in her mother’s alma mater, Fisk University, in Nashville, Tennessee. She majored in Modern Foreign Languages with emphasis on French, and became a campus leader. As President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., she was involved with many early student civil rights discussions. Upon graduation, and wanting to use her foreign language skills, she enrolled at the University of Neuchatel in Neuchatel, Switzerland for postgraduate work. While in Switzerland, she resided with a Swiss family. She returned to the United States and became one of the first African-American customer representatives in Manhattan for the newly created Xerox Corporation. Her responsibilities included managing, training and translating information for Xerox’s international accounts.
Having had a successful career with Xerox, she married and traveled to Illinois with her husband, Gerald L. Durley, where she became an advisor to many of the young African-American students on the predominantly white Northern Illinois University campus.
Leaving Illinois, she and her husband moved to Washington, DC where she gave birth to a daughter, Nia, and a son, Hasan. She chose, at that time, to become a full-time homemaker and mother. As the children matured and the family’s relocation to Atlanta, Georgia occurred, she decided once again to return to one of her first loves—teaching young children and encouraging their parents.
She began teaching kindergarten for the Fulton County Board of Education in East Point, Georgia and was with the county for 13 years. She has owned a ceramics business where she created beautiful, artistic, ceramic artifacts. She is currently the founder and owner of Muriel’s Unique Creations, which provides personalized gift baskets for all occasions.
Most of her time, however, is spent with the many ministries and activities at Providence Missionary Baptist Church and throughout the community. At Providence, she heads the Black History Life Program, the Environmental Group (The Green Team) involved with recycling, organic gardening, Healthy Choices and home energy efficiency. She helped to create a new Nursery Ministry, works with the Health Ministry, Women’s Ministry and other outreach programs at Providence. Her present concerns are passing on our rich African-American legacy to our young people and keeping us informed and aware of the positive impact we can continue to make on our environment.
Her greatest love besides her husband and their children are her grandchildren—Tai, Tori, Niara and Jelani.
She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Atlanta Fisk Club, and on the Board of Directors of the Ovie Mughelli Foundation.
She has received the following:
• Phenomenal Woman Award from the Coalition of Youth Empowerment
• Woman of the Year Award – Providence Missionary Baptist Church
• Mother of the Year Award – Providence Missionary Baptist Church
• Minority Business Person of the Year – Med Week in the Faith Community from the U.S. Department of Commerce