• Success! Pauli Murray’s Home Named a National Historic Landmark

    January 11, 2017

    The wait is over! After first being reviewed in October by the Advisory Board of the National Park System, we’ve received official word from the Department of the Interior that Secretary Sally Jewell has approved the Pauli Murray Family Home as a National Historic Landmark!

    We are rejoicing in this news with our partners, the Pauli Murray Project and the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, the many scholars, activists, elected officials, religious leaders, and advocacy organizations from across the country that wrote in support of the nomination, and the 2,700 individuals who signed our petition urging Secretary Jewell to designate the home an NHL.

    Stephanie Meeks, our president and CEO articulated the significance of the designation this way:

    “Pauli Murray was an accomplished human rights activist, historian, attorney, poet, and teacher who believed in justice, reconciliation, and freedom. And yet her deep and far-reaching legacy has been mostly obscured and unheralded. Honoring her childhood home as a National Historic Landmark is a vital step toward ensuring her many contributions are never forgotten. This recognition will energize our efforts to reopen the home as a center for history and social justice and bring greater attention to Pauli Murray’s legal scholarship and activism against discrimination.”

    Though incredibly gratified to reach this milestone, our work to make the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice is far from over. Find out how you can help here, and stay tuned for more information about an NHL plaque dedication at the home in spring 2017!

  • Landmark designation moves closer to reality; play depicting Pauli Murray's life opens in Durham

    November 18, 2016

    Pauli Murray’s life story and legacy is shining bright these days—which is especially fitting as it would be her 106th birthday on Sunday, November 20.

    On November 18, the National Park System Advisory Board voted to recommend to the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell that Pauli Murray’s Family Home in Durham, N.C. be named a National Historic Landmark (NHL).

    According to the National Park Service website, “The Advisory Board includes citizens who are national and community leaders in the conservation of natural, historic, and cultural areas…In most cases, designation by the Secretary occurs six to eight weeks following the Advisory Board's recommendation.”

    In the meantime, while we await good news about the NHL designation, a play depicting key chapters in Pauli Murray’s extraordinary life comes to the stage in Durham in early December.

    From the Pauli Murray Project website:

    “Using archival images, three chairs, and a typewriter, the performers bring to life 60 characters, six decades, and two continents in this acting tour de force.” The play, To Buy the Sun, “opens on the evening of February 12, 1977, the night before Pauli Murray’s historic appearance at The Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill. CBS’ Charles Kuralt and crew have been following Murray all day as part of their On the Road broadcast. Now, for the first time in decades, Pauli returns to the old family home place to reflect on the life and times of America and her place in its history, while she crafts the words she will speak tomorrow to the two million viewers. As Pauli Murray revisits old haunts and old friends, from Harlem to Harvard and Eleanor Roosevelt to Betty Friedan, the purpose of her life takes on a new and unexpected shape.”

    We’ll be sure to update this page with news of the NHL designation and ways to support the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice.

  • Pauli Murray House is One Step Closer to Being Designated a National Historic Landmark

    October 20, 2016

    On Tuesday, October 18th, representatives from the Pauli Murray Project, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Collaborative for Women's History Sites, and other partners attended a hearing of the National Park Service Landmarks Committee to approve the proposal for Pauli Murray House to become a National Historic Landmark. A distinguished delegation of advocates traveled to D.C. to stand at the podium, speak passionately for Pauli Murray's childhood home, and present the committee with over 2,500 signed petitions and letters of support from organizations and individuals.

    The committee unanimously recommended the federal designation for the house, moving the nomination on to the National Park System Advisory Board. The applause from the room was hard-earned and a very welcome response.

    This was the first step in the process to have Pauli Murray House, which was built by her grandfather and was home to three generations of Rev. Murray's family, registered as a National Historic Landmark. The next step is for the National Park System Advisory Board to consider the nomination at their next meeting on November 17-18 in Philadelphia. If the nomination is successful in November, it will be forwarded to the Secretary of the Interior, who will make the final decision.

    We are encouraged by the enthusiasm of Monday's decision and look forward to continuing work with our partners to preserve the Pauli Murray House in Durham, North Carolina.

    Learn more about Monday's hearing and the campaign for National Historic Landmark designation at The News & Observer.

  • Bringing Pauli Murray’s House Back to Life

    September 16, 2016

    Pauli Murray House, August 2016

    photo by: Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice

    The Pauli Murray House restored to its 1910 appearance.

    “True emancipation lies in the acceptance of the whole past in deriving strength from all my roots, in facing up to the degradations well as the dignity of the ancestors.”

    -- Pauli Murray, taken from her autobiography, Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family

    It is in this spirit of embracing the full spectrum of our history that the National Trust has joined an effort to create the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice in her childhood home in Durham, North Carolina. Built in 1898 by Murray’s maternal grandfather, the humble home she shared with her grandparents and aunts shaped her lifelong commitment to democracy, civil rights, and gender equality. Rehabilitating and converting the house into the Pauli Murray Center will advance her vision for justice and reconciliation through sharing her life story, examining her legacy, and providing a place for today’s scholars, poets, lawyers and activists to engage in social justice work.

    The summer of 2016 brought major rehabilitation work to the badly dilapidated home. With support from major donors, Iron Mountain and the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation and an outpouring of support from individual supporters, funds were used to construct a new roof, rebuild the porch and install appropriate windows. Interior work also involved jacking the home up six inches in the center, replacing the foundation and laying new piers to compensate for damage caused by water runoff from the public cemetery adjacent to the home. The exterior was also changed from white to blue/gray, in keeping with the home’s look in 1910.

    While there is still restoration to be done, the Pauli Murray Center is beginning to develop interpretation strategies for the entire site. The house is quite small and the only artifact the Center owns of Pauli Murray’s is her address book, so the house will not operate as a traditional house museum. Instead, it will tell Pauli Murray’s story through text panels, interactive exhibitions and community-based programming. To assist in this visioning, the team will be travelling to historic sites with cutting-edge interpretation, such as the President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, D.C. and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York, among others.

    Pauli Murray once said, “As a human being, I cannot allow myself to be fragmented into Negro at one time, woman at another, or worker at another. I must find a unifying principle in all these movements to which I can adhere.”

    Our goal is to find that unifying principle in our interpretation of Pauli Murray’s life and legacy, a principle that will inspire all of us and “the next generation of Pauli Murrays.”

  • Summer in the City (of Durham)

    September 2, 2015

    What did you do on your summer vacation? This has been a busy summer for the Pauli Murray House project. Barbara Lau, Executive Director of the Pauli Murray Center, and Karen Nickless, National Trust Project Manager for the Pauli Murray House Treasure, presented at the poster session at the Trust’s Rosenwald Schools Conference in Durham, June 17-19. Trust senior staff, in town for the Rosenwald Conference, took advantage of being in Durham to visit the Pauli Murray House on June 18. Even the sweltering heat did not dim the enthusiasm of Trust President Stephanie Meeks, Chief Preservation Officer David Brown, and Vice President for Eastern Field Offices John Hildreth on seeing the house. They toured the house with Barbara Lau and met with Mayme Webb-Bledsoe, Chair of the Center’s Board.

    In July, The Trust awarded a $4500 Preservation Fund grant for a Historic Structures Report for the house and on August 21, Karen Nickless joined with Barbara Lau and other representatives of the Pauli Murray Center at a reception announcing a major gift and ongoing partnership with Iron Mountain. Approximately 300 people attended the reception, held at the Scrap Exchange in Durham, which featured the opening of the exhibit, “Imp, Crusader, Dude, Priest,” a traveling exhibit from the Levine Museum of the New South. The exhibit will run until December 12.

    Work on the Pauli Murray House began in mid-August with the removal of the front porch roof and the first phase of removal of aluminum siding. Because of the new grants, the physical work on the house is beginning earlier than planned and moving at a faster pace.

    Behind the scenes, Trust partner the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, has been given permission from the National Park Service (NPS) to submit a National Historic Landmark nomination for the Pauli Murray House. National Landmark status is the highest accolade NPS gives. A successful designation would indicate that NPS considers the Pauli Murray House to possess the nation’s highest level of significance.

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