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)

Learn more: Patricia Bell-Scott, The Firebrand and the First Lady: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Racial Justice (2016)

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)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!