Classroom Materials and Resources
Pauli Murray was an amazing individual who caused change by what she called her "confrontations by typewriter."She was a thorn on the side of white America [of Franklin Roosevelt and subsequent presidents] demanding justice and equal treatment for all.
She refused to sit in a broken seat in the back of a bus in 1940, fifteen years before Rosa Parks. She went to jail for it. She organized student sit-ins to integrate cafeterias in Washington, DC in 1943, seventeen years before the Greensboro sit-ins.
She was a civil rights and women’s rights activist before any movement advocated for either—the brilliant mind that, in 1944, conceptualized the arguments that would, ten years later, win Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas, and in 1964, the arguments that won women equality in the workplace. Throughout her life, she fought for the oppressed, not only through changing laws, but by using her powerful prose to influence those who could effect change. She lived by her convictions and challenged authority to demand fairness and justice regardless of the personal consequences. Without seeking acknowledgement, glory, or financial gain for what she did, Pauli Murray fought in the trenches for many of the rights we take for granted. Her goal was human rights and the dignity of life for all.
She was a lawyer, a poet, and in the end, a priest. She was not adequately recognized for her contributions while she was alive, but she was transformative.
Below are links to many documents relevant to Pauli's Life, the history of civil rights, the Jim Crow Era, the history of women's rights.