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Pauli Murray Historic Highway Marker to Be Unveiled Sunday

Among her many 'firsts,' Pauli Murray was the first African-American women to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.

Pauli Murray's contributions to North Carolina history will be memorialized when her official state historic marker is unveiled at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at the corner of Carroll and West Chapel Hill Streets. An advocate for human rights and social justice, Murray grew up a few blocks from the marker site in the home of her grandparents Richard and Cornelia Fitzgerald.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell will proclaim Pauli Murray Day in Durham as he is joined by members of the Fitzgerald/Murray family, Southwest Central Durham neighbors and representatives of the Pauli Murray Project to dedicate the marker. "Pauli Murray is well deserving of recognition by the state of North Carolina as a tireless champion for human rights," says Barbara Lau, director of the Pauli Murray Project, part of Duke's Human Rights Center. "Placing this marker near her childhood home makes it a source of pride for her neighborhood and a beacon for young people who want to make a positive impact on the world."

Coinciding with Murray's 101st birthday, a party will follow the dedication at the Center for Community, Family Life and Recreation at Lyon Park, 1313 Halley Street. Winners of the Youth Prophecy Poetry Contest will share their winning entries and refreshments will be served. The public is also invited to help create a Proud Shoes labyrinth with artist Bryant Holsenbeck out of recycled shoes at Murray’s childhood home, 906 Carroll Street, beginning at 1 p.m.

Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was the first woman to graduate at the top of her class from Howard Law School. She advised First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on civil rights and co-founded the National Organization for Women. Before her death in 1985, Murray was the first African-American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest and offered communion for the first time at the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill.

Pauli Murray Day in Durham is sponsored by the Pauli Murray Project at the Duke Human Rights Center, the Resource Center for Women in Ministry in the South,the Southwest Central Durham Quality of Life Project and the Duke-Durham Neighborhood