Timeline

Nov. 20, 1910- Pauli Murray was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Agnes Fitzgerald and William Murray.

1914 – Pauli Murray moved to Durham to live with her aunt after whom she was named, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame. Agnes Fitzgerald Murray, Pauli’s mother, had died of a cerebral hemorrhage and her father, William Murray, was unable to care for their six children.

1923 – William Murray was murdered at Crownsville State Hospital.

1926 – Pauli Murray graduates from Hillside High at the head of her class and goes to New York City so that she could meet entrance requirements at Hunter College. She receives another high school diploma from Richmond Hills High School in New York in 1927

1933 – She graduates from Hunter College and goes to work for the Works Project Admission (WPA), Workers Defense League and as a teacher in the NYC Remedial Reading Project.

1938 – She attempts to gain admission as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The NAACP supported Pauli Murray in challenging this policy however the NAACP decides not to pursue the case because of Pauli Murray’s New York resident status.

1940 – Pauli Murray joins the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a Christian organization.  She is arrested and jailed for protesting Virginia law requiring segregation on buses.  She refused to sit on broken seats at the back of the bus.  She had been traveling to try to raise money to pay for legal fees for Odell Waller, a black sharecropper who was accused of murder.

1941 – She entered Howard Law School and encounters overt sex discrimination from faculty and students. While a student she participates in restaurant sit-ins attempting to desegregate these public facilities in African-American communities.

1942 – Odell Waller is executed.  Pauli Murray writes a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on behalf of outraged leaders.  She criticizes the presidents’ failure to improve conditions for black southerners.

1943 – Murray publishes “Negroes are Fed Up” in Common Sense and an article about the Harlem race riot in the socialist newspaper New York Call. She also published her famous poem on race relations, “Dark Testament,” in the winter issue of South Today, a magazine highly regarded for its literary entries and attention to southern racial issues.

1944 – Pauli Murray and fellow students from Howard University take part in a silent demonstration at a Washington D.C. cafeteria.  The students are eventually served, however, the president of Howard orders them to suspend further demonstrations.

June 1944 – Pauli Murray graduates from Howard Law School first in her class (and the only female). The usual reward for graduating in this position is a prestigious fellowship at Harvard University. She applies for admission to Harvard Law School’s graduate program but is rejected because of her gender despite having President Roosevelt (an alumni of Harvard) write a letter to the president of the University on her behalf.  She enrolls at University of California’s Boalt Hall Law School to work on a graduate degree in law.

1945 – She receives a Masters of Law degree from University of California, Berkeley.  Her master’s thesis was entitled, “The Right to Equal Opportunity in Employment.”  She passed the California state bar.

1945 – Pauli Murray’s aunt Pauline retires after working as a teacher in Durham schools for 60 years.

1947 – Pauli Murray is named “Woman of the Year” by Mademoiselle Magazine.

1948 – Murray runs for and receives the second highest vote total in New York City council race for Brooklyn’s tenth Senatorial district.

1950 – She is the only female hired by the NY firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton, and Garrison.

1951 – Murray writes the States’ Laws on Race and Color for the Women’s Division of the Methodist Church, which was labeled the “bible” for the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education and other civil rights cases.

1952 – Murray is a victim of McCarthyism.  She was rejected for a position at Cornell University because the people who supplied her references, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall and Phillip Randolph, were considered to be too radical.

1955 – Pauli Murray’s Aunt Pauline dies.  On her deathbed, Pauli reads to her from the Book of Common Prayer.

1956 – Pauli Murray’s seminal work Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, a biography of her grandparents and their struggles with racial prejudice is published.

1960 – Murray travels to Ghana and takes a position as a senior lecturer at the Ghana School of Law in Accra.

1961 – John F. Kennedy appoints Murray to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women Committee (PCSW) on Civil and Political rights.  Works with A. Phillip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Martin L. King, Jr. on civil rights.

1964 – US Civil Rights Act passed.  Murray co-authors “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex discrimination and Title VII,” in which she draws parallels between sex-based discrimination with Jim Crow laws.

1965 – Murray receives a J.S.D from Yale, the first African-American to receive this degree.  Her dissertation was entitled, “Roots of the Racial Crisis: Prologue to Policy.”

Serves as counsel in White v. Crook, which successfully challenged the use of sex and race discrimination in jury selection.

1966 – Along with Betty Friedan and thirty others, Murray was a founding member of National Organization for Women (NOW).

1967 – Murray serves as vice-president of Benedict College in Columbia, SC.

1968-1973 – Murray earns a position as Professor of Law and Politics at Brandeis University.

1973 – At age 62, Murray entered General Theological Seminary prior to the Episcopal Church’s approval of women as candidates for ordination.

1976 – Murray completed Master of Divinity degree.

1977 – Pauli Murray becomes the first African-American female priest to be ordained by the Protestant Episcopal Church.

1982 – Murray is forced to retire because Episcopal Church law requires retirement at age seventy-two.  She continued to serve as a priest for the hospitalized and homebound people in Alexandria, VA.  She was also priest of the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore.

July 1, 1985 – Pauli Murray dies of cancer in Pittsburgh, PA.

1987 – Her autobiography Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage published. The book was reprinted in 1989 by the University of Tennessee Press with a new title: Pauli Murray: The Autobiography of a Black Activist, Feminist Lawyer, and Poet.