To Buy the Sun: The Challenge of Pauli Murray

April 10, 2018 by Erica Stewart

Fifteen years before Rosa Parks refused to stand, Pauli Murray refused to sit in the back of the bus. Twenty years before the Greensboro sit-ins, she organized restaurant sit-downs in the nation’s capital. Yet Murray was denied admission to the University of North Carolina because of her race and to Harvard Law because of her gender.

Despite this systemic oppression, 123 years after her enslaved grandmother was baptized at the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, N.C., Pauli Murray returned as America’s first female African-American priest to celebrate her groundbreaking Communion there.

A tireless champion of human rights, the author of what Thurgood Marshall called the “Bible for Civil Rights lawyers,” Pauli Murray’s struggles, insights, and achievements resonate powerfully in our times.  As Eleanor Holmes Norton said, Pauli Murray not only lived on the edge of history, she seemingly “pulled it along with her.”

Come learn about her life and legacy in a new play, To Buy the Sun: The Challenge of Pauli Murray, which will be staged in Washington, DC and New Haven, Connecticut this month.

Using archival images, three chairs, and a typewriter, performers will bring to life 60 characters, six decades, and two continents in this acting tour de force.

Tickets are $15 and available online at the links below.

To Buy the Sun is a collaborative effort of the Pauli Murray Project and Hidden Voices, a radically inclusive, participatory, and co-creative collective committed to creating just, compassionate, and sustainable relationships. Major sponsors for the spring 2018 tour of To Buy the Sun: The Challenge of Pauli Murray are Trinity Church Wall Street and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, LLC—the law firm that once employed her.

The play is drawn from original works by Pauli Murray with permission of the Pauli Murray Foundation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Pauli Murray’s childhood home in Durham, N.C. a National Treasure in 2015. Visit to learn more about the efforts by the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice to convert the Pauli Murray home into a public resource for educating and inspiriting future generations of leaders, doers, and big thinkers.

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