1910 November 20

Pauli Murray, Civil Rights and Feminist Activist, is Born

 

Pauli Murray was an African-American lawyer, feminist, civil libertarian, poet, and Episcopal Priest. As a student at Howard University, she participated in one of the earliest sit-ins in the U.S., on April 17, 1943.

Perhaps her most notable accomplishment was to write a paper commissioned by President John F. Kennedy’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women, arguing that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed equal protection for women. The Commission embraced the argument and even suggested that people bring court cases to test the proposition. Eight years later, the Supreme Court accepted the argument (see below). Go to October 11, 1963, for the release of the Commission’s report.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, wrote her brief in the landmark case of Reed v. Reed, decided on November 22, 1971, she added the names of Pauli Murray and Dorothy Kenyon in recognition of their pioneering work for women’s rights.

Read her autobiography: Pauli Murray, Proud Shoes (1999)

Watch of documentary on Pauli Murray: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBROdwo_le4

Read: Sarah Arazansky, The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and the American Democratic Faith (2011)

Learn more at the Pauli Murray Project at Duke University: http://paulimurrayproject.org/

Learn more about African American history: Henry Louis Gates, Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 (2011)

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