Yale University to Name Residential College After Civil and Women’s Rights Activist Anna Pauline Murray

Anna Pauline Murray
Anna Pauline Murray

article via naacp.org

Yale University is naming a new residential college after African-American Yale alumna and civil rights activist Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray.  Pauli Murray is best known as a staunch civil rights and women’s rights advocate, lawyer and ordained Episcopal priest.  Ms. Murray’s lifelong commitment to ensuring a fair and just society for everyone serves as an inspiration and role model to NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks as well as many civil rights lawyers.

In 1938, Ms. Murray was denied admission to the University of North Carolina’s law school because she was African American – all schools and public facilities in the state were segregated.  Influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and his practice of nonviolent civil disobedience, she joined with Bayard Rustin, George Houser and James Farmer to form the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).  While a student at Howard Law School, she participated in sit-ins to challenge the discriminatory seating policies of area restaurants.  These sit-ins preceded the more widespread and well-known sit-ins of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

After graduating from law school, Ms. Murray sought to continue her study of the law at Harvard University but was rejected because of her gender.  Her experiences with racism and gender inequality fueled her activism in the civil rights and women’s rights movements.  She authored a book, “States Laws on Race and Color” in 1951. Thurgood Marshall, then chief counsel at the  NAACP, described her book as the Bible for civil rights lawyers.  Upon completion of her doctorate in 1965, she became the first African American woman to be awarded a J.D.S from Yale University.

Murray went on to become one of the founding members of the National Organization for Women (NOW), addressing women’s rights and gender equality.  President John F. Kennedy appointed her to his Committee on Civil and Political Rights.  Challenging gender discrimination in the Episcopal Church, Ms. Murray entered the priesthood, earned a master’s degree in divinity from Yale, and made history in 1976 when she became the first African American woman ordained an Episcopal priest.  She served in churches in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Pittsburgh until her retirement in 1984. She died of cancer in 1985.

One thought on “Yale University to Name Residential College After Civil and Women’s Rights Activist Anna Pauline Murray”

  1. I’m so excited to hear that Ms. Murray is being celebrated. Good Black News should be made available to every student in this country. It’s so refreshing to read good things about African Americans.

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