Interview by Paul Salfen
They are one of the most influential figures in American 20th century history. It’s time you learn their name. My Name is Pauli Murray is coming to @PrimeVideo Oct 1. Fifteen years before Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat, a full decade before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned separate-but-equal legislation, Pauli Murray was already knee-deep fighting for social justice. A pioneering attorney, activist, and first black non-binary Episcopalian priest and dedicated memoirist, Murray shaped landmark litigation—and consciousness— around race and gender equity. As an African American youth raised in the segregated South— who was also wrestling with broader notions of gender identity—Pauli understood, intrinsically, what it was to exist beyond previously accepted categories and cultural norms. Both Pauli’s personal path and tireless advocacy foreshadowed some of the most politically consequential issues of our time. Told largely in Pauli’s own words, My Name is Pauli Murray is a candid recounting of that unique and extraordinary journey.
Pauli Murray lived one of the most remarkable lives of the twentieth century. She was the first Black person to earn a JSD (Doctor of the Science of Law) degree from Yale Law School, a founder of the National Organization for Women and the first Black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest.
Pauli Murray’s legal arguments and interpretation of the US Constitution were winning strategies for public school desegregation, women’s rights in the workplace, and an extension of rights to LGBTQ+ people based on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Pauli Murray crafted a broad vision of justice, equity, and human rights using words as her primary tool in the fight for liberation. Pauli resisted categories of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, wrestling with issues raised by her own racial identity, economic struggles, and sexual and gender identity. She aspired to an integrated body, mind, and spirit that aligned with a holistic sense of self.