Pauli Murray

PauliMurray1Pauli Murray was an admirable leader in the civil rights and women’s movements in the mid 20th century.  Her idea of “Jane Crow” originated in her 1965 article, “Jane Crow and the Law: Discrimination and Title VII,” and perfectly exemplifies the multiple classifications that worked to subjugate her status in society.1 “Jane Crow” expanded the scope of civil rights theory to include women.  Murray drew parallels between the two, noting that both race and sex discrimination are biological and thus immutable.2 In an oral history conducted through the University of North Carolina, Murray explained, “where you have a permanent characteristic, i.e., color, race or sex, it is on the basis of one’s birth that one becomes a member of that caste, so to speak. It is completely imposed upon one and there is no way that one can escape except as the society is changed.”3 Nonetheless, although American law and culture discriminated against Pauli Murray on the grounds of both race and gender, she proved to be an inspirational leader for numerous minorities.

Click the following to learn more about Pauli Murray:

  1. Early Years and Academic Achievements
  2. Activism
  3. Poetry and Publications
  4. Pauli Murray’s Legacy

Sources for this page:

1. Rosenberg, Rosalind. “The conjunction of race and gender.” Journal of Women’s History 14.2 (2002): 68+. Biography In Context. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.
2. Oral History Interview with Pauli Murray, February 13, 1976. Interview G-0044. Southern Oral History Program
Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Published by Documenting the American South [3 May 2013]
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3. Ibid.