Thursday, July 2, 2009

"...Discovery Of The Illimitable Heights and Depths Of my Own Being."

The more I learn about Pauli Murray’s life the more I wish I could have known her as a friend before she died. I will let her life speak to you by the Work she did for the Lord.
Her words speak of a time with ways, that in years have passed us by.
But in the way humans act toward each other, her words ring so true for us today. The klan as they have always been known, may not be so visibly active today, but the horrendous acts and hatred they exhibited are alive in so many people today. No value for life that is different in any way from them.


Pauli Murray, Activist, Poet, Lawyer, Priest, A Woman after God’s Heart.

In memory of Stephen Vincent Benet

Hope is a crushed stalk

Between clenched fingers,

Hope is a bird’s wing

Broken by a stone,

Hope is a word in a tuneless ditty---

A word whispered with the wind,

A dream of forty acres and a mule,

A cabin of one’s own and a moment to rest,

A name and place for one’s children

And children’s children at last…..

Hope is a song in a weary throat,

Give me a song of hope

And a world where I can sing it.

Give me a song of faith

And a people to believe in it.

Give me a song of kindliness

And a country where I can live it.

Give me a song of hope and love

And a brown girl’s heart to hear it.

From Dark Testament and Other Poems. Norwalk, CT: Silverman, 1970


Collect for Poplarville
(Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer)

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, Oh, Lord;
Teach us no longer to dread

hounds yelping in the distance,

the football at the door,

the rifle butt on the window pane.

And by Thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night;

Give us fearlessness to face

the bomb thrown from the darkness,

the gloved hand on the pistol,

the savage intention,

Give us courage to stand firm against

our tormentors without rancor—

Teach us that most difficult tasks---

to pray for them,
to follow, not burn, Thy cross!
New York, May 1959



I sing of a new American

Separate from all others,
Yet enlarged and diminished by all others.
I am the child of kings and serfs, freemen and slaves,
Having neither superiors nor inferiors,
Progeny of all colors, all cultures, all systems, all beliefs.
I have been enslaved, yet my spirit is unbound.
I have been cast aside, but I sparkle in the darkness.
I have been slain but live on the rivers of history.
I seek no conquest, no wealth, no power, no revenge;;
I seek only discovery
Of the illimitable heights and depths of my own being.

Cambridge, 1969


North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

The story of Harriet, Cornelia, and the Smith family was recounted by Cornelia's granddaughter, Pauli Murray, in her autobiography Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family (1956). Murray was an attorney, writer, and civil rights activist. Educated at Hunter College in New York, she applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina to study sociology. The university rejected her on grounds of race, provoking a national debate. Blacks were first admitted to professional and graduate study in 1951.
Murray later became the first black female Episcopal priest, and in 1977, she presided over her first Holy Eucharist at Chapel Hill's Chapel of the Cross, where her slave grandmother Cornelia had been restricted to the balcony.


Pauli Murray:
A One-Woman Civil Rights Movement

Mention United States civil rights leaders, and most Americans think of mid-twentieth-century icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. But in a lecture sponsored by the Schlesinger Library and held in February at the Radcliffe Institute, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, a Yale University historian and 2000–2001 Radcliffe fellow, offered a vivid account of an activist whose struggle for racial and gender equality took place many years before Brown v. Board of Education and the civil rights marches on Washington.
“We [historians] write about the civil rights movement as the time when white people saw it on television in their living rooms,” Gilmore said in a talk titled “Guts, Greyhounds, and Gandhi: Pauli Murray’s Civil Rights Movement, 1935–1973.” “By that time, many people had been in the civil rights movement all their lives.”
The Pauli Murray in Gilmore’s lecture title is a central character in the historian’s new book, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights 1919–1950 (Norton, 2008), which sheds light on the unsung activists—including labor figures, Communists, anti-Fascists, artists, poets, intellectuals, and picketers—who led the fight against segregation and Jim Crow laws in the American South. Murray, whose forebears included both slaves and prominent white North Carolinians, worked throughout her life to widen opportunities for African Americans and women.
Murray grew up in Durham, North Carolina, a fast-growing town in the early part of the twentieth century, with a large black middle class. “Segregation was ubiquitous,” Gilmore said, “and Murray hated Jim Crow as much for its repression of the soul as for its repression of the body.” To get away from the segregated south, she attended Hunter College in New York and graduated with a degree in English in 1933.
In 1938, she applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina and was denied entry because of her race, even though her white great-great-grandfather had been a trustee of the university. “From that moment on,” Gilmore said, “Pauli Murray was a one-woman civil rights movement.”Murray was never admitted to the University of North Carolina, but her career is a study in idealism and determination.
Among other distinctions, she graduated from Howard University Law School at the top of her class; enlisted Eleanor Roosevelt as a lifelong friend and political ally; studied and put to use the nonviolent resistance techniques of Mahatma Gandhi; organized and led desegregation sit-ins in Washington, DC; became the first African American to earn a doctorate from Yale Law School; and, at age 66, became the first African American woman in the United States to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.
Murray had a lasting impact on American feminism, beginning with an article she coauthored with Mary Eastwood in 1965, “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII” in George Washington Law Review. The authors wrote that “the most serious discrimination against both women and Negroes today” took place in the area of employment. Two years later, Murray was instrumental, along with Betty Friedan and others, in founding the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Gilmore conducted extensive research for Defying Dixie at the Schlesinger Library, drawing heavily on Murray’s papers, one of the library’s most popular collections. “Pauli Murray left her papers to this place because she thought the Schlesinger would take the best care of them,” said Gilmore, who couldn’t resist noting an irony: Murray once applied to the master’s program in law at Harvard but was informed, “You are not of the sex entitled to be admitted to Harvard Law School.”
Deborah Blagg is a freelance writer.
Watch Glenda Gilmore's lecture at
The image collage by the design firm Mullen is from items in the Pauli Murray Papers at the Schlesinger Library-

Here is a LINK to the JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN Humanities Institute, which is collaborating with the New Project Org. that is Teaching so many Who Pauli Murray was. People Need To Know!

faith and peace,
Resting In His Faithfulness,
One Day At A Time By Faith.
Joshua 1:9

No comments: