black women

If You Care About Women’s History, You Have To Know About Pauli Murray

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pauli-murrayBy Lechette Walker

Pauli Murray is a great woman to celebrate for Women’s History Month. She has been a vital part of the transformation into civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights. Her life has endured the struggles of race and gender prejudice that cultivated her passion for change.

She was born in Durham, North Carolina then she fled to New York City where she attended Hunter College.  Pauli Murray was determined to embrace her possibilities of excellence which led her back to her home state to attempt to diversify the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  UNC was an all-white and all male student body that did not accept blacks at the school.  There was a history of blacks applying to the school only to be rejected, but she was determined to apply for the graduate program to study Sociology.

Her enduring and courageous spirit joined the fight to make a change in the admittance exclusion at UNC in 1938.  Her tenacity in spirit led her to involving the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to help her prevail in the fight for admittance. After being denied assistance by the NAACP she continued in her fight for fair treatment among resistant forces.

School integration talks were formulated after she sent a letter to President D. Roosevelt, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, UNC president, Frank Porter Graham, and James Shepard.  Her efforts to introduce integration into the schools provided insight that contributed to the ruling in Brown vs Board of Education.

While her attempt to integrate the schools did not open the doors for her admittance, it did push her to continually fight for civil rights and the demand for equal treatment among all. In 1940 she called out the Greyhound bus for the racial segregation, leading to the arrest of Murray and her partner, Adelene Mcbean in Petersburg, Virginia.

Murray was recognized for her extreme determination, and was recommended by Thurgood Marshall to take on a legal career at Howard University. Her determination for equal treatment sparked her commitment to the Jane Crow movement. She was also co-founder for the National Organization of Women, vital in the launch of the Civil Rights Amendment, assisted with the sex protection under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Movement, and she was the first woman that was ordained as an Episcopal priest.