So excited. Starting now, the world premiere of #MyNameIsPauliMurray at @sundancefest.
#PauliMurray was another among a litany of women like Ida B Wells, who many don’t know also challenged segregation in public transportation years before Rosa Parks #MyNameIsPauliMurray
Born in #Baltimore, raised in Durham, NC. Her mother died; her father institutionalized. Raised by her aunt (a teacher) in Durham. “The classroom was my second home.”
“The point at which my life became unbearable was when there was contact with the white world.” The “awareness” of lynching Murray speaks of, that was there for millions of 20th century Black ppl is what I tried to capture in On The Courthouse Lawn.
“Where could I go to get an answer?” The strain and isolation of being gender non-conforming when there was no language and few places to be fully Pauli. So painful to imagine this turmoil and loneliness.
“Most of her life was ‘you will see me; you will hear me.’”
Read Lynne Olson’s masterpiece Freedom’s Daughters for more on Murray’s long friendship with, and great admiration for, Eleanor Roosevelt.
At Howard Law School she is largely ignored. But at the end of the first year she was at the top of her class. Then, she started to get attention.
Add successful lunch counter sit-ins in D.C. in 1943 to Murray’s actions. This began the segregation of U Street.
At Howard - in 1944 - she proposes challenging Plessy v Ferguson head-on. She incubates the idea of the frontal challenge to segregation that becomes realized in Brown.
The law firm of Paul, Weiss hires Murray. This firm had also broken barriers in hiring William H. Coleman, when he was unable to get a job of a law firm after his clerkship with Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Felix Frankfurter.
Like many Black intellectuals who could escape, Pauli Murray leaves for Africa for a time - a refuge after the devastating lynching of Mack Parker in 1959 in Mississippi.
At Yale where Murray pursued her doctorate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, then a student active in the Civil Rights Mvmt, admits the students thought they started sit-ins and non-violent civil rights demonstration. They are unaware of Murray’s pioneering activism.
Founding member of the National Organization for Women. On the board of the ACLU. Murray pushes challenging exclusion of women from juries. #RBG adds Murray’s name to her SCOTUS brief in Reed v Reed.
Murray: “I’ve lived to see my lost causes found.”
So moving and powerful. Pauli Murray was trailblazer, an original, a brilliant lawyer, activist and intellect to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. Thank you for this film Julie Cohen, Betsy West & Talleah Bridges McMahon.
#MyNameIsPauliMurray. @sundancefest

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More from @Sifill_LDF

31 Jan
Gentlemen, my problem with this argument is that they were teaching civics in school during Massive Resistance to Brown; during the violent resistance to the Little Rock 9, racist violent resistance to busing in Boston & to integrated housing in Cicero, IL.
I’m a proponent of civics - a deeper, richer study of history, democratic governance here & abroad, economics, the rights & responsibilities of citizenship, &!guidance in how to read critically. All undergirded w/the essential foundation of race, gender & class.
Nostalgic Americans should be haunted by the experience described in Beth Roy’s book Bitters in the Honey, of a white student at Central High School in Little Rock as she watched out of her classroom window as a white mob chased a Black reporter.
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29 Jan
So the top line story is that Trump has hired as one of his impeachment attys an atty who was found to have struck Black ppl firm jury service 3 yrs after the SCOTUSreinforced the unconstitutionality of the practice. But the undercard is pretty impt. 1/…
Because here’s what happened to this lawyer who violated the Supreme Court’s admonition in Batson v Kentucky:
Jury service is, like voting, one of the core expressions and rights of citizenship. Keeping Black ppl from jury svc is unconstitutional and is as ugly and pernicious as voter suppression.
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13 Jan
If you’ve studied white supremacist lynch mobs then what we are seeing is devastatingly familiar - including the defiance vs. law enforcement. When the MD Gov called the National Guard to arrest the men who lynched George Armwood in 1933 another mob formed to challenge the Guard. Image
This stand-off is in the town of Salisbury, MD a month after Armwood was lynched. The mob even turned a fire hose on the the Guardsman who were there to arrest the suspected lynchers of Armwood. This is what lynch mobs were like. Are like. Image
Is it still a lynch mob if they don’t succeed in lynching? Yes. I wrote about the near-lynching of George Davis in 1932. Lynch mobs went to 4 different county jails on the Eastern Shore of MD looking for him after a white woman alleged Davis attempted to assault her. Image
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10 Jan
I know there’s a lot to absorb tonight, but please read and share this.…
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31 Dec 20
Thinking over the moments that motivated me this year & how powerfully & clearly this country revealed itself. It was confirmation of all I have known, but I also learned so much more. The clarity with which I see the challenges we face has strengthened my resolve beyond measure.
It started with one of the best days ever. My journey with the #USPS this year has been kind of “how it it’s going.” First, the unveiling of the #GwenIfillForever stamp in January. So grateful for this honor from the @USPS.
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22 Dec 20
I cannot think of a more fitting replacement. #BarbaraJohns is an American hero. At 16, she defied school leaders and led a walkout at her segregated HS in Virginia. Her action led to the Virginia Brown v Bd case. Learn abt this extraordinary activist…
Whew! Tears. #BarbaraJohns did what great activists often do - pushed the civil rights attys at @NAACP_LDF to file the Va. Brown case before they felt ready. Her HS in Va. is now a museum, regarded as the birthplace of the modern civil rts mvmt
Simple Justice by Richard Kluger is the quintessential account of the development & execution of the Brown v Bd litigation. But among my favorite passages is the awakening of teenager #BarbaraJohns as an activist: “the man who drove the bus I took...was also my history teacher.”
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