Pauli Murray: Giving an Unsung Hero her Due

April 2, 2017

Saturday April 1 was a glorious day in Durham as the long-held vision of seeing Pauli Murray’s family home crowned a National Historic Landmark was realized.

400 people from far and wide joined a “Homecoming” event to celebrate the National Park Service’s plaque dedication, officially bestowing the nation’s highest preservation honor upon the home. Poetry, singing, art making, and stirring remarks about Pauli Murray's vision for justice helped commemorate her life and legacy on a most memorable day. Attendees included representatives from U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield's office, Durham Mayor Bill Bell, the Durham County Commissioners, NAACP, NOW, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Rosita Stevens-Holsey also attended the ceremony, representing the Murray side of the family, and offered these words about her aunt’s vision:

“Pauli was determined the future would not be the past — for women, for blacks, for the forgotten and overlooked,” she said. Stevens-Holsey said that while Murray was a deep thinker and serious person, she also had a lighter side and sense of humor.

“She was a fortress and a guiding light for others,” Stevens-Holsey said. “I am so grateful to know Aunt Pauli is no longer an unsung hero.”

The crowd was invited into the house for the first time to engage with new exhibits and to check out the renovation plans for the interior of the home. Fundraising efforts continue in earnest for the Pauli Murray Project, which endeavors to open the home to the public as a social justice and history center in 2020.

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