Skip to main content
Pauli Murray

Pauli Murray was a civil rights activist, a pioneering feminist, a labor organizer, a lawyer, an Episcopal priest, and a writer of nonfiction, memoir, and poetry. Born Anna Pauline Murray in Baltimore, she earned a BA from Hunter College and a JD from Howard Law School. The only woman in her class, she was valedictorian and awarded a prestigious Rosenwald fellowship for postgraduate study–only to be denied admission to her first choice, Harvard University, because of her gender. She earned a master’s at the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and became the first black woman to earn a PhD in juridical science from Yale Law School. She also earned a master’s in divinity from the General Theological Seminary. She was a founding member of the Congress for Racial Equality and the National Organization for Women. In her ’60s, Murray was the first woman ordained as an Episcopal priest. She served as a priest for eight years. Murray was gender nonconforming, describing herself as “a girl who should have been a boy” and trying without success to obtain hormone therapy. Since her death, she has been named a saint by the Episcopal Church. 

More By This Poet

Browse more poets