Jane Crow tells the incredible story of Pauli Murray, a lawyer, activist, and priest. Murray spent her life fighting for women’s and civil rights, all while grappling with gender identity at a time when gender dysphoria was unrecognized. Though Murray is a relatively unknown figure today, her stunning list of accomplishments included providing legal scholarship in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, assisting Ruth Bader Ginsburg in persuading the Supreme Court that the Fourteenth Amendment should apply to protecting both women and other minority groups from discrimination, and becoming the first black woman ordained as a priest by the Episcopal Church.
The New Yorker recently published a big piece on Murray and the book: “Historical figures aren’t human flotsam, swirling into public awareness at random intervals. Instead, they are almost always borne back to us on the current of our own times. In Murray’s case, it’s not simply that her public struggles on behalf of women, minorities, and the working class suddenly seem more relevant than ever. It’s that her private struggles—documented for the first time in all their fullness by Rosenberg—have recently become our public ones.”
Rosalind Rosenberg is Professor of History Emerita at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of Divided Lives: American Women in the Twentieth Century, Changing the Subject: How the Women of Columbia Shaped the Way We Think About Sex and Politics, and Beyond Separate Spheres: Intellectual Roots of Modern Feminism.