Activist Pauli Murray's Proud Shoes More Important than Ever

MacDowell Fellow Pauli Murray (4x 54-59) was an American civil rights activist, women's rights activist, lawyer, Episcopal priest, and author. While at MacDowell, with luminaries like James Baldwin and Milton Avery, she worked on a family history that became a “major African American genealogy [that] showcases the racial and social dynamics between the union of a free black family from the north and a mixed-race family of the south,” according to The National Museum of African American History and Culture. First published in 1956, Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, is the basis of a current – though unfortunately COVID-19 shuttered – exhibition at the museum called Pauli Murray’s Proud Shoes: A Classic in African American Genealogy, which opened on February 28th of this year.

Proud Shoes is a groundbreaking but often overlooked work in African American genealogy. The NMAAHC's Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center is highlighting the book, and using documents and photographs related to Pauli Murray’s family and her life fighting for justice and equality, to honor her legacy.

The year 2020 is also the 50th anniversary of her poetry collection Dark Testament: and Other Poems.

See more of her books at Indie Bound.

Portrait of Fellow Pauli Murray standing and leaning against a tree on a snowy day