Today…January 8th

Today…January 8th

In the Episcopal Church of America, January 8th is the feast day for the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray. Murray was civil rights activist, and the National Organization for Women says of her: “She was one of the most important thinkers and legal scholars of the 20th century, serving as a bridge between the civil rights and women’s rights movements.” In 2016, the organization described her as; “The Black Queer Feminist Civil Rights Lawyer Priest who co-founded NOW, but that History Nearly Forgot.”

If one could characterize in a single phrase the contribution of Black women to America, I think it would be ‘survival with dignity against incredible odds’…– Pauli Murray, “Black Women-A Heroic Tradition and a Challenge” (1977)

“She’s a person that lived an intersectional life before the term even existed,” says David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition.

Murray was a person who pushed for racial justice decades before the Civil Rights movement. She refused to give up her bus seat fifteen years before Rosa Parks, and she was organizing sit-ins at diners that refused to serve Black people in Washington D.C. starting in the 1930’s and ’40’s. For her work on the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, many claim she deserves the most credit for ending school segregation.

Her work with law and religion helped pass marriage rights for same-gender-loving people.

“True community is based on upon equality, mutuality, and reciprocity,” she said. “It affirms the richness of individual diversity as well as the common human ties that bind us together.”

Photo from Schlesinger Library,
Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University (N.O.W.)

She was the first African American woman to be ordained in the Episcopal Church. She held a law degree from Yale, which named a residential college for her in 2017.

Pauli Murray was many things – but more than anything, she was a servant of Jesus. She dedicated her life to creating the world that Jesus told us we should create. Her faith and her witness have given to all of us in the LGBTQIA+ family.

Learn more about her faith, and her incredible life and activism.