Why Pauli Murray?
The Rev. Dr. Anna Pauline Murray (1910-1985) was a prophetic voice for all God’s children at a time when women, and particularly women of color, had very little voice at all. Raised in Durham from the time she was a toddler, Pauli Murray was an attorney, writer, feminist, poet and educator. In 1977, she became the first African-American woman to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. In all these roles and despite innumerable barriers, she was an advocate for social justice and for reconciliation across lines of race, gender and economic class.
A descendent of slaves and those who owned them, Murray fought against racial segregation but also worked for full recognition of women’s contributions within the Civil Rights Movement. She was a policy analyst and legal scholar who excelled in professions dominated by men, earning six post-secondary degrees and publishing four books.
In July 2012, she was named a saint by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA. At that time, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry said, “This is one of the ways that the Church lifts up people whose lives have exemplified what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and make a difference in the world. Pauli Murray had an agenda for the human good that was constant and unswerving. As a descendent of slaves and slaveholders, people who were members of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, she is a symbol of the importance of bringing different worlds together, even in the midst of great pain.”
The newly-renovated chapel of the Raleigh-area Episcopal Campus Ministry is named for Mother Murray, honoring a life committed to God’s call to serve the least of these and reminding us all that the work did not end with her.
Adapted from www.paulimurrayproject.org.