North Carolina author and activist Pauli Murray was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1998. Author of the famous autobiography Proud Shoes, which tells the story of her upbringing in Durham, Pauli received a law degree at Howard University, a Masters in Law from the University of California at Berkeley, and her doctorate from Yale. Later, she became the first female African American Episcopal Priest.
The Firebrand and the First Lady, a new biography from Patricia Bell-Scott, tells the story of the friendship between Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt. One might not immediately pair a “poet, intellectual rebel” and co-founder of the National Organization for Women (Murray) with the first lady of the United States, later first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and chair of the Presidentâ€™s Commission on the Status of Women (Roosevelt). But:
It was a decades-long friendshipâ€”tender, moving, prodding, inspiringâ€”sustained primarily through correspondence and characterized by brutal honesty, mutual admiration, and respect, revealing the generational and political differences each had to overcome in order to support each otherâ€™s growth as the transformative leaders for which they would be later known.
Drawing on letters, journals, published and unpublished documents, and interviews, Bell-Scott presents the first close-up portrait of this evolving friendship and how it was sustained over time, what each gave to the other, and how their friendship changed the cause of American social justice.
Patricia Bell-Scott is professor emerita of womenâ€™s studies and human development and family science at the University of Georgia. Her previous books include Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women, which was a featured selection of The Quality Paperback Book Club and the Black Literary Guild; Flat-footed Truths: Telling Black Womenâ€™s Lives; Double Stitch: Black Women Write about Mothers and Daughters, which won the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, and All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Womenâ€™s Studies, an award-winning textbook that was named to the Black Issues Books Review list of â€œBooks that Made the Century Great.â€ To learn more, visit www.patriciabellscott.com.