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This is the first in the 2023 series of videos remembering key African American figures in the Episcopal Church and beyond.

Pauli Murray (November 20, 1910 – July 1, 1985), She was an architect of the civil-rights struggle — and the women’s movement. Why haven’t we heard of her?

In 1944 Pauli Murray, a law student at Howard University, was fed up with the limited and incremental results of questioning the “equal” part of the “separate but equal” doctrine, which set out that racial segregation did not necessarily violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing “equal protection” under the law to all people.

She proposed a radical alternative: why not challenge the “separate” part instead? Her classmates laughed at their top student. Undeterred, she bet her professor ten dollars that the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court Ruling that established the “separate but equal” doctrine would be overturned within twenty-five years.

Fr. Galen Snodgrass is the rector of Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Kansas City. A member of the Diversity and Reconciliation Commission, and Vice President of the Diocesan Council.

Archive photographs courtesy of: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, and Carolina Digital Library and Archives, UNC University Library.

Music: Abobe Stock

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