Pauli Murray (1910-1985), a renaissance woman who achieved distinction as a poet, biographer, legal historian, Episcopal priest, and feminist civil rights activist, was barred from attending the University of North Carolina because of her race but later studied law at the University of California, Berkeley, passing the California bar exam in 1945. The author of States’ Laws on Race and Color (1951), a book Thurgood Marshall dubbed the bible of civil rights lawyers, Murray also published Proud Shoes (1956), a highly praised memoir of her grandparents’ journey from slavery to freedom. Murray was a founding member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a pacifist group that helped to introduce Gandhian non-violence to the American left. Among the first public critics of sexism in the civil rights movement, she also helped to found the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. In 1974, she shifted gears once more, leaving a professorship at Brandeis University to attend seminary, later becoming the first African American woman ordained as an Episcopal priest. The FBI opened its file on Murray well into her varied career, focusing on her attraction to women and interviewing the editor who contracted Proud Shoes.
FBI documents studying Pauli Murray.
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