Home Timeline 1942-1973 Reporters & Writers Perpsectives on Reporting Civil Rights Resources Reporting Civil Rights: The LOA Anthology
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(November 20, 1910-July 1, 1985) Born Anna Pauline Murray in Baltimore; orphaned at an early age, was raised in Durham, North Carolina, by maternal grandparents and an aunt. Educated at Hunter College, receiving bachelor's degree in 1933. Worked briefly for Opportunity magazine; hired in 1936 in WPA worker education and remedial reading projects. In 1938 attempted with NAACP support to enter graduate school at University of North Carolina, but was denied admission because of race. As member of Fellowship of Reconciliation was arrested in 1940 for failure to sit in back of Virginia bus. Studied law at Howard from 1941 to 1944; participated in founding of Congress of Racial Equality in 1942, and wrote articles and essays on civil rights movement, including 1943 report for New York Call on Harlem race riots. Refused permission in 1944 to apply for further study of law at Harvard because she was a woman (later received master's in law from University of California; passed California bar in 1945). Practiced law in New York; ran unsuccessfully for Brooklyn city council seat, 1948. Published States' Laws on Race and Color (1951) and family memoir Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family (1956). From 1956 to 1960 worked for New York law firm Paul, Weiss; taught at Ghana School of Law (1960-61) and studied for doctorate in law at Yale (1962-65). Co-founded National Organization for Women, 1966; taught in Afro-American studies department at Brandeis beginning in 1967. Published Dark Testament, a book of poems, in 1970. Following 1973 decision of Episcopal Church to allow women deacons, studied for holy orders at General Theological Seminary, New York; became deacon in 1976 and ordained to priesthood in 1977. Died in Pittsburgh. An autobiography, Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage (1987), was published after her death.

Also see the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute, which holds the papers of Pauli Murray and Nan Robertson.