Pauli Murray’s niece visits the American Writers Museum to inspire the next generation of writers.
Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was a poet, lawyer, priest, professor and activist. The American Writers Museum’s special exhibit Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice, on display now, was named after and inspired by Murray’s work. On October 24, 2023, Rosita Stevens-Holsey, Murray’s niece, who is 80 years old, visited the AWM and spoke to a group of students about her remarkable aunt. Stevens-Holsey co-wrote the Murray autobiography, Pauli Murray: The Life of a Pioneering Feminist and Civil Rights Activist with Terry Catasus Jennings.
From a young age, Murray had a keen sense of justice, her niece said.
“One thing she learned was to use your voice to express yourself whenever you feel it’s important,” Stevens-Holsey said. “I hope that will inspire some of you to be advocates or activists when you see something that’s wrong or something you feel is very important, like our environment or peace.”
Stevens-Holsey wants to share her aunt’s story with young people because Murray’s story is one of tenacity and perseverance.
“This is the story of someone who never gave up, no matter what brick wall they hit,” she said. “I think it’s an inspiration for young children.”
Murray was the first Black person to earn a doctorate in law from Yale University. She was a frequent correspondent with Eleanor Roosevelt and a mentor to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“There are a lot of people, especially women and people of color, who have been left out of history,” Stevens-Holsey said. “She’s just one of many people that hopefully your generation will learn about.”
If you’re interested in arranging an inspiring visit like this to the AWM for your students, explore our education opportunities here. Our Education Team will work with you to create an engaging and fun educational experience for your classroom, including author Q&As, teacher-designed curriculum, in person and virtual field trips, and more!
You can also learn more about the life and legacy of Pauli Murray by exploring our virtual exhibit Pauli Murray: Survival with Dignity. Murray’s poetry collection, Dark Testament, served as the major inspiration and namesake of our ongoing special temporary exhibit Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice, on display now. Dark Testament and all exhibits are included with AWM admission.