Pauli Murray’s life and writings can be so moving and motivating. Have they impacted you?
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A friend gave me a copy of Firebrand and the First Lady shortly after its release. She gave it to me in part because in one conversation I had talked about how much I loved James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and also how I had just read Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal. I was really excited and also troubled by the fact that I had barely heard of Frances Perkins before, though she was responsible for so many programs that dramatically changed the United States for the better (but programs that had always been attributed to Roosevelt). I had told my friend that it was fascinating to rethink that time period with this new information. So when that friend read the NY Times review of Firebrand she knew that this book and its subject would be the important next chapter in my awareness raising. I have, since reading that book, obsessed about Pauli Murray and her amazing spirit and perseverence. That she accomplished so many firsts for women for women of color…That she juggled an active creative life that she maintained against the back drop of the Law career, the activism, the caring for family, relentlessly using that weary voice and working so hard for change. And that later in life she wasn’t afraid to say…wait, there is one more important chapter that I have to achieve. All of it just blew my mind. I want everyone to know about this amazing human being. As a woman, as a queer person, as a teacher, as an activist, I look to Pauli Murray for inspiration, hope and example.
I am so glad to finally hear about this great woman. As a white woman I am always looking for great leaders in the Civil Rights movements. Unfortunately our history books barely mention Black people at all and if they do they give only a passing mention of Dred Scott and Martin Luther King. This also applies to other groups that have been discriminated against in this country. This woman gives me encouragement and hope in these troubling times of rising racism, misogyny, and hate of all “others” who are not white Anglo-Saxon males. I will continue to read her poetry and other writings, and other books and articles about her. I will pass along her messages to those who are fighting for the rights of all people and try to emulate her courage.
Dr. Murray is also cited in the book THE NOTORIOUS RBG, wherein going against the precedent of the canon, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, then an attorney for the ACLU (if I’m remembering what I was told today about that reference) added Murray’s name and I believe Dorothy Kenyon’s to an argument going before the Supreme Court, because her work was based on theirs. This was gifted to me at breakfast today and how I found out about Pauli Murray ata writer’s retreat. Let us shout her from the rooftops and teach her in our schools.
Led to the website from Preservation NC petition for NHL listing. Well done website; however difficult to find contact info.
Wanted to comment that Biograpy section is not clear on date Murray moved to Durham. Timeline confirms date, but if one were to only read Biography one might conclude that she didn’t move until 1923.
Keep up good work. Am signing petition for NHL status.
Like many people who have commented here I have only just begun to realise the importance of Pauli Murray in the discourse of civil rights. I cant believe \I have only just heard of her. I am writing a contribution to a book on Black and Ethnic Minority saints and she has provided just the testimony I am looking for. I feel like I’ve only begun to appreciate the significance of what she did but I intend to
devour every single word that has ever been written by her and about her. This project is vital in spreading the word about Pauli.
As an avid reader, I am at a loss as to why I am just now discovering Dr. Murray and her triumphs as a Black woman, scholar, author, poet and educator. But, now that I am aware of her, I look forward to learning a lot more about her.
NOTE: I was going to listen to the recordings of the two poems included on this site, but the “listen” link do not work.
Just finished reading The Firebrand and the First Lady and I can’t believe that I haven’t heard of Pauli Murray. Now that I know about her I will read more of what she has written. It seems that what she wrote has a timeliness about it for the present. She said, ” …I’m unwilling to turn our country over to the apostles of fear…”
Can’t wait to read her poetry and “Proud Shoes” her autobiography.
I’m reading “The Firebrand and the First Lady” and am very inspired by Pauli Murray’s courage, action, continual thirst for learning and faith. As an Episcopalian, I was thrilled to learn that she had been acknowledged as an Episcopal Saint.
My mother, Nancy Haney, and the rev. Dr. Murray were friends. Mom was one of the typists on Pauli’s States’ Law on Race and Color. They also corresponded a good bit. One of my regrets in life is that when I was younger and was active in what was then called “the clown ministry,” my mom told me that Pauli was interested and would love to talk with me about it. But she was a friend of my mom’s so I didn’t realize the opportunity I was passing up.
I am so glad to have discovered this site. Whenever possible I try to lead people to her work.
I feel inspired by her every time I pass the mural of her image downtown. Activist, scholar, theologian. Wow! I’m writing a poem about her.
Hi, I have a student who just wrote a senior thesis on the erasure of Pauli Murray from the narrative of the Road to Brown, Brown v. Board of Education. I would love to have this work edited to be on your site. Are you interested?