Murray, Anna Pauline "Pauli"

Murray, Pauli, 1910–1985, American lawyer, priest, and activist, b. Baltimore, S.J.D. Yale University, 1965, MDiv, General Theological Seminary, 1976. Murray laid some of the formative legal groundwork for the civil rights movement in the United States. Born Anna Pauline Murray, Murray chose the name "Pauli." Some scholars observe that Murray personally identified—at different times in her life—as a man, a woman, and ambiguously in-between, and thus could be considered "gender fluid." Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Murray faced discrimination in employment and education. She referred to prejudice against women as "Jane Crow," a reference to Jim Crow laws. A member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a pacifist organization, Murray's early career focused on working to end segregation in public transportation. In 1940, over a decade before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Murray refused to move to the back of a segregated bus in Richmond, Virginia, and was sent to jail. This experience would inform Murray's vocation as a civil rights and women's rights advocate.

A founding member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a preeminent civil rights organization, Murray's work contributed to the public and scholarly discussion on racial and gender-based discrimination. After graduating from Howard Law, Murray earned a master of law degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Law. In 1946, Murray briefly served as the first African American deputy attorney general in the state of California. Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Murray published two watershed law articles: "Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII" and "Roots of the Racial Crisis: Prologue to Policy." These articles would prove instrumental in combating the legal foundations of racial discrimination.

In 1965, Pauli became the first African American to receive an S.J.D. degree from Yale University. In 1966, Murray became a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW), a major feminist organization. In the academy, Murray served as the vice president of Benedict College and as a tenured professor at Brandeis University. Murray also became the first African American woman in the U.S. to become an Episcopal priest in 1977. Along with articles and essays, Murray also wrote sermons and poetry. Her published works include States' Laws on Race and Color (1951), Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family (1956), Dark Testament and Other Poems (1970), and Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage (1987). Thurgood Marshall called States' Laws on Race and Color "the bible" of the civil rights movement. The book is commonly cited as the foundation for the arguments presented in Brown v. Board of Education. Murray died on July 1, 1985.

See G. Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (1996); D. O'Dell, Sites of Southern Memory: The Autobiographies of Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, Lillian Smith, and Pauli Murray (2001); A. B. Pinn, ed. Pauli Murray: Selected Sermons and Writings (2006); A. F. Scott, ed. Pauli Murray and Caroline Ware: Forty Years of Letters in Black and White (2006); S. Mayeri, Reasoning From Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution (2011); S. Azaransky, The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith (2011); P. Bell-Scott, The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice (2016); R. Rosenberg, Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray (2017); T. Saxby, Pauli Murray: A Personal and Political Life (2020); M. Jones, Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All (2020).

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