The religious thought and activism that shaped the late twentieth century is typically described in terms of Black men from the major Black denominations, a depiction that fails to account for the voices of those who not only challenged racism but also forced a confrontation with class and gender. Of these overlooked voices, none is more important than that of Pauli Murray (1910–1985), the nonbinary Black lawyer, activist, poet, and Episcopal priest who influenced such icons as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall.
Anthony B. Pinn has collected Murray’s most important sermons, lectures, and speeches from 1960 through 1985, showcasing her religious thought and activism as well as her original and compassionate literary voice. In highlighting major themes in Murray’s writing—including the strength and rights of women, faithfulness, religious community, and suffering—Pinn’s collection reveals the evolution in Murray’s religious ideas and her sense of ministry, unpacking her role in a tumultuous period of American history, as well as her thriving legacy.
“This is a compelling compendium of Murray’s theological insights and spiritual yearnings. True food for thought and for the soul and a call to each of us to live lives of justice and hope.”—Emilie M. Townes, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
“Pauli Murray’s life was remarkable by any stretch of the imagination, and it was lived at the crossroads of the 20th century’s struggle with civil rights, equal rights, women’s rights, and labor movements. In this necessary, original, and accessible collection, Anthony Pinn helps us embrace Pauli Murray with head, heart, and humanity.”—Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
“Though she stepped into the pulpit late in life, Pauli Murray was a prophetic preacher throughout the 20th century, confronting the principalities of sexism and racism with her typewriter and her direct action. She confronted both the white supremacists who defended segregation and the Black men who thought they knew better, always with a certitude that made clear she drew from deep wells. In this collection of Murray’s sermons and lectures, we get to see how her trailblazing life of proclamation was rooted in both the Scriptures and a powerful understanding of God’s love for all creation. Drink deep from the wisdom that sustained this giant of the Movement.”—William J. Barber, II, author of We Are Called To Be a Movement
“In this indispensable collection, Anthony Pinn gives substantial attention to Pauli Murray’s sermons and lectures in tracking her religious development and growing theological perspectives. Unlike most scholarship on Murray’s religious turn, this collection offers a full-throated account of her activism, later in life, as an evolving expression of her religious growth.”—Keri Day, Princeton Theological Seminary