SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: The Reverend Dr. Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray (November 20, 1910 – July 1, 1985) was an American civil rights activist, a women’s rights activist, a lawyer, and also an author. In addition, Dr. Murray was the first Black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest.
The young Pauli Murray, who graduated from Hunter College, worked with the NAACP, and was the first woman to graduate from Howard University’s law school. She was a critic of “Jane Crow” — laws and prejudices against Black women. And Pauli Murray is the inspiration for the character Andi Martin in MRS. ROOSEVELT’S CONFIDANT.
The real Pauli Murray did have a friendship with Mrs. Roosevelt, and in 1941 tried to persuade the First Lady to intercede when a black man, Odell Waller, was sentenced to death for self-defense.
WUNC, the public radio station in Chapel Hill, North Caroline—Pauli Murray’s home and base of Duke University’s Pauli Murray Project—to the has just done a wonderful piece on Pauli Murray, called “Imp, Crusader, and Dude: The Many Identities of Pauli Murray,” written by Anita Rao and Frank Stasio:
“Scholar and activist Pauli Murray grew up in Durham and was fundamentally shaped by its history and culture, and she left a lasting legacy on the city in return.
Duke University’s Pauli Murray Project has been working to document this legacy and recently reached an important milestone: the project begins the restoration of Pauli Murray’s historic house in southwest Durham this summer.
Today they are also unveiling a new exhibit on view at The Scrap Exchange that features an intersectional look at Pauli’s many identities, from priest to crusader.”
Please give a listen and learn more about the amazing American Pauli Murray — a Black, queer, feminist hero, nearly erased from U.S. history.