Pauli Murray


photo by Schlesinger Library / Radcliffe Institute / Harvard University

Pauli Murray was a civil rights and women’s rights activist, a poet, a lawyer, an author, and an Episcopal priest (the first African American woman to be ordained). She was friends with Langston Hughes in her youth and Eleanor Roosevelt throughout her adult life. She also a co-founder of the National Organization for Women with Betty Friedan. Her top school choices for undergraduate and law schools denied her because of her race or gender, and yet she still persisted and kicked ass at Howard University; her senior thesis directly helped Thurgood Marshall in Brown vs. Board of Education. She was appointed to the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women by President John. F. Kennedy. In 1965 she co-authored “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII”, which was so influential that Ruth Bader Ginsburg listed her as a co-author in her Reed vs. Reed brief.

The more I read about Pauli Murray, the more my head spins. She was so incredibly ahead of her times and yet did not let that stop her from laying down the foundations to help the later civil rights and women’s rights movements.

Further (wonderful) Reading:

The Many Lives of Pauli Murray – The New Yorker

Here’s The Perfect Candidate To Replace North Carolina’s Racist Silent Sam Statue – Huffington Post

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