Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

PAULI MURRAY
(1910-1985)

.Uche Egemonye

Born on November 20, 1910, in Baltimore, Pauli Anna Pauline Murray's physical appearance evinced her multiracial--African American, Caucasian, and Native American--heritage. When she lost both her parents at an early age, Pauli moved in with her mother's sister Aunt Pauline and maternal grandparents, who lived in Durham, North Carolina. Aunt Pauline worked as a Durham schoolteacher until her retirement at age 75. She instilled a great reverence for education in her namesake and godchild, the young Pauli. In 1927, Murray graduated as valedictorian of her high school. Unable to tolerate the humiliating Jim Crow laws, she fled the segregated South for New York. A year after her arrival in New York, Murray started attending the all-women's Hunter College. During her college years, she secretly married a man whom she identified only as "Billy." The marriage lasted for only several months until they had it annulled.

At Hunter, Murray was one of a handful of African American women among 4,000 students. She paid for college by working at several jobs. Having spent the first two decades of her life nurtured and nourished by well-educated, sophisticated, and ambitious women, Murray was largely impervious to the limitations society placed on women. She grew up believing she could pursue any and every vocation that piqued her interest, and during her lifetime, she did.

Following her graduation from Hunter in 1933, during the Great Depression, Pauli Murray began working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). During her stint at the WPA, she took classes at Brookwood Labor College, where she learned about Marxism and the economic exploitation of workers. She spent the next six years holding a variety of positions and writing poetry, until 1938, when she decided to attend graduate school.

Angered by the continued persistence of segregation in the South, Murray applied to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ( UNC). The university's decision to deny Murray admittance because of her race was ironic. Murray's white relatives had donated substantial sums to the university for the

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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