Pauli Murray

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Pauli Murray was a civil rights activist, feminist, lawyer, writer, poet and the first woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest, serving for eight years. She was raised by her aunt after her mother died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Her father was committed to an asylum for the Negro insane, due to his symptoms of long- term Typhoid Fever. Tragically, he was beaten to death by a guard.

Murray earned a BA from Hunter College and a J.D. (Juris Doctor degree) from Howard Law School. The only woman in her class, she was also valedictorian and the recipient of a prestigious Rosenwald fellowship for postgraduate study but was denied admission to Harvard University because of her gender. She became the first black woman to earn a PhD in juridical science from Yale Law School. She fought against racism and sexism and was a founding member of the Congress for Racial Equality and the National Organization for Women.

She died on July 1, 1985 of pancreatic cancer. In 2018 she was chosen by the National Women’s History Project as one of its honorees for Women’s History Month in the United States.

Sources: Poetry Foundation; Wikipedia; Pauli Murray Project

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