Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Dream Is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Dream Is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith

Article excerpt

The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith. By Sarah Azaransky. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, Pp. vi, 166. $55.00.)

Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray (1920-1985) was a lawyer, poet, author, civil rights activist, feminist activist, and priest (the first black woman ordained in the Episcopal Church). Appointed by John F. Kennedy to die President's Commission on the Status of Women, she was a friend and colleague of Eleanor Roosevelt, Bayard Rustin.James Farmer, and Betty Friedan. Despite this history, however, this extraordinary woman, cofounder of both CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and NOW (National Organization for Women) is still unknown to many present-day advocates of both racial and gender justice. Perhaps it has something to do with what Murray labeled "Jane Crow." Invisible not only in patriarchal institutions that noticed neither people of color nor women, black women were invisible also among the marginalized - ignored by the civil rights movement because they were women and by the women's movement because they were black (a term Murray preferred to African American).

The Dream is Freedom explores Murray's life and work in various interstices: race and gender, law and theology, church and state. A lawyer, strategist, organizer, teacher, and essayist in the civil rights movement, Murray incorporated theological themes such as redemptive suffering and pacifism rooted in faith. A priest working for justice for women and people of color in the church, she argued democratic ideals of justice and equality rooted in gospel and prophetic mandates. Murray crafted legal arguments that shaped both civil rights and women's rights legislation; the NAACP used Murray's work while arguing Brown v. Board of Education, and she was the architect of the legal theory that included sex as a category in civil rights protections. Murray had fallings out with the leadership of CORE and other civil right leaders for their refusal to include black women in the agenda of the movement and with NOW and other feminist leaders for their inattention to black women. She introduced, and insistently promoted, the theory that the separation of these oppressions is untenable - not only because for black women it would mean separating themselves, but because each of these subordinations supports a dominant culture that oppresses both blacks and women. …

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