\”One person plus one typewriter constitutes a movement.” ~ Pauli Murray
Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was that one person movement as an activist, author, lawyer, poet and priest. Murray graduated from college right when the Great Depression started. With inestimable resilience, she endured a life in and out of poverty and illness, forever fighting for the recognition of poor Black womxn in the misogynistic Civil Rights Movement and racist Women’s Rights Movement.
Murray never held back from being honest about the injustice she experienced and saw around her. Many would not listen, but those who did – Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Eleanor Holmes Norton – partly attribute their success in social justice to her insights.
Although we refer to Pauli Murray as she/her because that is how she identified during her lifetime, people now recognize her as gender non-conforming or a transgender man, because Murray thought of herself as “a girl that should have been a boy.”
Society’s inability to see Pauli Murray for all of who she was caused great turmoil in her life, and we are all at a loss if we don’t honor the conviction and complexity of her life now. In fact, it is critical that we do so as the fight to respect and protect trans Black people continues today.