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Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Throughout her prodigious life, activist and lawyer Pauli Murray systematically fought against all arbitrary distinctions in society, channeling the discrimination she faced to make America a more democratic country. In this definitive biography, Rosalind Rosenberg offers a poignant portrait of a figure who played pivotal roles in both the modern civil rights and women's m ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published April 3rd 2017 by Oxford University Press
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  106 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jane Crow is a very well written and researched book on the life of lawyer, activist, writer, and priest Pauli Murray. Pauli Murray is a person I believe everyone should get to know especially if they are not familiar with her like I was when I started reading this book. Her research played an important role in developing the legal argument to challenge racial discrimination in Brown vs. Board of Education. Murray also coined the term “Jane Crow” which challenged discrimination against women on ...more
Donna Davis
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: academics with civil rights focus; social justice and gay rights readers; feminists.
Pauli Murray is the person that coined the term “Jane Crow”, and was the first to legally address the twin oppressions of color and gender. I had seen her name mentioned in many places, but this is the first time I’ve read her story. Thank you to Net Galley and Oxford University Press for the opportunity to read it free in exchange for this honest review. This biography is for sale now.

Murray was born in North Carolina and was a labor activist during the turbulent 1930s. She was academically gi
Joshunda Sanders
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well-written, fascinating biography of a completely underrated pioneering legal scholar, theologian, journalist and poet. Amazing that the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray laid the groundwork for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legal work to advance the rights of women and was the first Black feminist in American culture to elevate the notion of multiple oppressions facing Black women while also centering her life's work around explaining and describing why those oppressions were important to distinguish from the ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If for no other reason, read this because Pauli Murray is a name we all should know, respect, and honor as one of the most influential, under-recognized Americans of the 20th c.

Rosenberg's biography is thoughtful, comprehensive, and unafraid to tackle subjects which are still evolving before our eyes, such as trans rights and separatism vs. integration. She dares readers to think more deeply about the history of human rights in the United States, particularly with respect to its failures (despit
Molly Cleary
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
A colleague and I started a work book club and this was our first selection. Pauli was so ahead of her time, it's unreal. Her personal identity struggles are relevant, and her dominance in the ideology of intersectionality is really inspiring. I learned so much, but the book can get pretty dense at times. Her meetings with Eleanor Roosevelt and James Baldwin and the deep dive into BedStuy real estate in the 1950s lightened it up and were particularly fun to read about. She is such a hero, and I' ...more
Diana Hayes
Excellent in-depth bio of the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray. Although I was somewhat familiar with her story, Rosenberg has written a fascinating critical and very personal presentation of her life and her life's work. The impact of her life on so many critical areas of African American history including law, sociology, theology, race, gender, etc was an eye-opener for me. As for too many Black women, her life was one of ups and downs, highs and lows including a life-long struggle with her own sexua ...more
Review forthcoming in Publishers Weekly.
Jessie Evans
I LOVED this book. Pauli Murray is such an important historical figure that needs to be talked about way more than they are. I thought that learning about them was amazing and I would recommend this novel to anyone and everyone.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up. This is a well-researched account of a fascinating and important attorney/activist. I didn't care for the writing style - biographical suppositions such as "Her therapist probably told her...." really irk the hell out of me - but a worthwhile read.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, biography
The words “nevertheless, she persisted,” describe Pauli Murray well. She weathered having multiple doors shut in her face on the basis of race, gender, and activism, and she kept her sexual orientation? status? secret from all but a very few close friends. (Today we would most likely refer to her as transgendered.)

Trained as a lawyer at Howard University in the early 1940s her research and paper for a class her senior year provided a springboard for Thurgood Marshall’s and the NAACP’s civil righ
Phil Sageser
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely an unsung hero -- of the Civil Rights movement, as a founder of NOW -- and as transgendered before there was such a word.
Dee Halzack
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant visionary overlooked during her time.

I admire Pauli Murray. She paved the way for other Social Justice litigators and Civil Rights activists to achieve equality in this country w/ her 14th amendment strategy. Yet she was not applauded or appreciated during her time. It saddens me that she did not live to see the recognition, admiration and respect she finally deserves by the 21st century civil rights lawyers, grassroots activists, political science students, historians, etc.
I wish I
May 15, 2017 added it
A mixed-race orphan, Murray grew up in segregated North Carolina, before escaping to New York, where she attended Hunter College and became a labor activist in the 1930s. When she applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina, where her white great-great-grandfather had been a trustee, she was rejected on account of her race. Deciding to become a lawyer, she graduated first in her class at Howard Law School, only to be rejected for graduate study at Harvard University on account ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book, couldn't finish because I only read at work and this is so comprehensive.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. I would have given it five stars, but I don't think it quite does justice to Murray's decision to leave her teaching position at Brandeis shortly after getting tenure, only to enroll in an MA program at a theological seminary. I also found a couple of silly editing problems, which are annoying, but forgivable. I imagine Roseberg was just kind of exhausted by the time she got to her final chapter, and Murray's decision to get yet another degree in her 60s must have made sense to R ...more
Florentina Ofelia
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I do not want to discourage anyone from reading this book. The facts of Pauli's life and all she has accomplished is interesting and I would suggest others to read this book. To me, however, I just was not able to get through this book. But I repeat, I would suggest anyone read this book. The topic matter itself is interesting, it's just the writing, I found, was very hard to get through. This is the kind of book that as time passes, I would try reading again because I do believe that it is wor ...more
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really hope Pauli Murray becomes a more well-known figure (there are so many different biopic angles it's ridiculous). Murray was at the forefront of thought in so many intersecting civil rights struggles it feels like we're just catching up now. I hope to get my hands on Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage soon to learn more in Pauli's own words.
Catherine Devlin
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting book; I learned a ton. Murray was involved in all sorts of key points of most of the century's struggles against discrimination, but she was never in "famous superstar" status, so you see the important events but you also see the routine struggles of the non-famous.

Biggest disappointment: little depth into the details of Murray's religious thoughts. Clearly it was a huge part of her life, but this author really doesn't delve in depth there.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Rev. Dr. Murray was such a trailblazer and had such an interesting life, but this telling was really dry. Part of this may be because Murray's sister "sanitized" her papers, so the source material to really do this story justice may not be readily available.

This book is worth reading because its subject is important and under-acknowledged. But the definitive Murray biography may have to wait for more time to pass and/or more material to surface.
Martha Miller
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's not summer reading. It's American history that has yet to be told. Murray was a lawyer, professor of law, an author, a political activist and a priest. She moved among the greats of her age. I will never see the racial and feminist movements in the 1960s and 70s in the same way again.
Marilyn Batchelor
Great insight into a true warrior for human rights

I really enjoyed Rosenberg's thorough details about Pauli Murray from beginning to end. Having read Proud Shoes and Songs in a Weary Throat, I found Jane Crow to be a wonderful added piece to broaden the knowledge of such an amazing woman.
Christine Sears
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I enjoyed learning about Murray and her civil rights and women's rights work. What an amazing person. The book ended on a hopeful note with Obama's presidency and upward progress, a depressing ending given our current state of affairs.
Edward Sullivan
A fascinating, in-depth biography of a remarkably gifted and accomplished individual I knew nothing about. Among her many accomplishments, Murray advanced the idea of Jane Crow, arguing that the same reasons used to condemn race discrimination could be used to battle gender discrimination.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-reads
This woman had an incredible life, and our book club had a great discussion about her and the eras in which she lived. However, it is dense, reads like a dissertation, and only one of us finished in time for our meeting. This would make a fascinating mini-series.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Murray is a monumental figure in the struggle for human rights , however, this dense, didactic treatise is not intended for a general audience. I am glad to now know of Pauli Murray , but it was not an enjoyable experience.
Deb Aronson
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
An exhaustive biography of Pauli Murray and my first introduction to her. A little slow going because of all the detail but an important work.
Mills College Library
Biog M9827r 2017
Aug 16, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction
Recommended by Abby
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
The winner of this year's Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction (presented by the Publishing Triangle).
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