Pauli Murray

Black History Month

Pauli Murray (November 20, 1910 – July 1, 1985)

paulimurray

Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray was born in Baltimore on 20th November, 1910. Her mother, Agnes Murray died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1914. Her father, William Murray, was a graduate of Howard University and taught in a local high school. He suffered from the long-term effects of typhoid fever and eventually was confined to Crownsville State Hospital where he was murdered by a guard in 1923. Pauli went to live with her aunt, Pauline Fitzgerald, an elementary school teacher and her grandparents Robert and Cornelia Fitzgerald in Durham, North Carolina.

After graduating from Hillside High School in 1926 with a certificate of distinction, she moved to New York City. Murray attended Hunter College and financed her studies with various jobs. However, after the Wall Street Crash, unable to find work, Murray was forced to abandon her studies. In the 1930s Murray worked for the Works Projects Administration (WPA) and as a teacher in the New York City Remedial Reading Project.

In 1941 Murray enrolled at the Howard University law school with the intention of becoming a civil rights lawyer. Murray graduated from Howard University in 1944 and she wanted to enroll at  Harvard University to continue her law studies.  In her application for a Rosenwald Fellowship, she listed Harvard as her first choice. She was awarded the prestigious fellowship but after the award had been announced, Harvard Law School rejected her because of her gender. Murray went to the University of California Boalt School of Law where she received a degree in law.

In 1956 Murray published Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, biography of her grandparents, and their struggle with racial prejudice and a poignant portrayal of her hometown of Durham.

In 1977 Murray became the first African American woman to become a Episcopal priest.

Read more HERE.

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