My Name Is Pauli Murray

Director Betsy West,Julie Cohen / 2021 / USA

Before Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rosa Parks, there was Pauli Murray. Remember their name.

A groundbreaking lawyer and activist, an award-winning poet, the first Black non-male Episcopalian priest and a queer pioneer – Pauli Murray was all of these and more. Born in 1910, Murray blazed a trail in the fight against segregation and sexism during the 30s and 40s, laying the groundwork for the civil rights and women’s rights movements of the following decades. Their legal work inspired future Supreme Court justices such as Marshall and Ginsburg. They were explicit about their gender non-conformism well before the Western concept of nonbinary identity was established.

Murray is an extraordinary figure and a fascinating subject for Betsy West and Julie Cohen, the directorial team behind the Emmy-winning Ginsburg documentary RBG. Relying on the vast archive of letters, journals, legal writings, photos, and video and audio recordings that Murray left behind, as well as interviewing friends, colleagues, students, admirers (including the aforementioned RBG) and academics, the filmmakers have crafted a meticulous documentary that gives credit where credit is due while never glossing over the personal demons with which Murray struggled throughout their life. The result is an illuminating, inspiring film that celebrates a remarkable legacy.

“A documentary destined to win hearts, minds and audiences … There is a whole history of America to be found in Murray’s multi-faceted life.” – Screen Daily

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