Born in 1910, Anna Pauline (“Pauli”) Murray was raised in Durham, NC and became a trailblazing participant in the civil rights and women’s rights movements. Murray was a woman of many talents and passions: an activist, an educator, a lawyer, a poet, and – at age 67 – the first female African American Episcopal priest. She was valedictorian of her high school class, and went on to earn degrees from Hunter College, Howard Law School, UC Berkeley (LLM), and Yale (JSD & MDiv). Murray was a founding member of NOW (National Organization for Women) and in 1947 Mademoiselle magazine named her “Woman of the Year.”
Murray’s distinguished career came about despite numerous obstacles due to her race and gender. As an African American, she was refused entry to UNC’s School of Law. As a woman, graduating first in her class at Howard earned her a Rosenwald Fellowship to attend Harvard for graduate studies in law, but Harvard reneged on this honor because of her gender. These are but early examples of the kinds of discrimination Murray would encounter over the course of her illustrious career as a legal scholar, activist, and religious leader.
November 20th marks the centennial of Pauli Murray’s birth, and Duke University’s Human Rights Center has planned a host of events in collaboration with area institutions, including UNC. The first of these events will take place next week at Wilson Library.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about Pauli Murray…
- Stay tuned! Coming up on Wednesday: a look at Duke’s Pauli Murray Project initiative.