The Firebrand and the First Lady Portrait of a Friendship Pauli Murray Eleanor Roosevelt and the Struggle for Social Justice A groundbreaking book two decades in the works that tells the story of how a brilliant writer turned activist granddaughter of a mulatto slave and the first lady of the United States whose ancestry

  • Title: The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice
  • Author: Patricia Bell Scott
  • ISBN: 9780679446521
  • Page: 468
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A groundbreaking book two decades in the works that tells the story of how a brilliant writer turned activist, granddaughter of a mulatto slave, and the first lady of the United States, whose ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, forged an enduring friendship that changed each of their lives and helped to alter the course of race and racA groundbreaking book two decades in the works that tells the story of how a brilliant writer turned activist, granddaughter of a mulatto slave, and the first lady of the United States, whose ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, forged an enduring friendship that changed each of their lives and helped to alter the course of race and racism in America.Pauli Murray first saw Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933, at the height of the Depression, at a government sponsored, two hundred acre camp for unemployed women where Murray was living, something the first lady had pushed her husband to set up in her effort to do what she could for working women and the poor The first lady appeared one day unannounced, behind the wheel of her car, her secretary and a Secret Service agent her passengers To Murray, then aged twenty three, Roosevelt s self assurance was a symbol of women s independence, a symbol that endured throughout Murray s life.Five years later, Pauli Murray, a twenty eight year old aspiring writer, wrote a letter to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt protesting racial segregation in the South The president s staff forwarded Murray s letter to the federal Office of Education The first lady wrote back.Murray s letter was prompted by a speech the president had given at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, praising the school for its commitment to social progress Pauli Murray had been denied admission to the Chapel Hill graduate school because of her race.She wrote in her letter of 1938 Does it mean that Negro students in the South will be allowed to sit down with white students and study a problem which is fundamental and mutual to both groups Does it mean that the University of North Carolina is ready to open its doors to Negro students Or does it mean, that everything you said has no meaning for us as Negroes, that again we are to be set aside and passed over Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to Murray I have read the copy of the letter you sent me and I understand perfectly, but great changes come slowly The South is changing, but don t push too fast So began a friendship between Pauli Murray poet, intellectual rebel, principal strategist in the fight to preserve Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, cofounder of the National Organization for Women, and the first African American female Episcopal priest and Eleanor Roosevelt first lady of the United States, later first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and chair of the President s Commission on the Status of Women that would last for a quarter of a century.Drawing on letters, journals, diaries, published and unpublished manuscripts, and interviews, Patricia Bell Scott gives us the first close up portrait of this evolving friendship and how it was sustained over time, what each gave to the other, and how their friendship changed the cause of American social justice.

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    One thought on “The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice”

    1. Patricia Bell-Scott's "The Firebrand and the First Lady" was a well-researched book about the friendship between Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt. This book is a great companion to the 2017 biography Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray by Rosalind Rosenberg which I also highly recommend. I would suggest that you read Jane Crow first before this book, so that you can get a full grasp of who Murray is before you read about her friendship with Roosevelt. Murray and Roosevelt's friendship is a sma [...]

    2. Read because: 2017 Finalist, Carnegie Medal - Non-FictionI was about a third of the way into this book when I was struck with how downplayed Murray's accomplishments were. In her quest to paint the firebrand portrait - strident letters, protests, activism, civil engagement - the author doesn't seem to overly-emphasize the fact that Murray found a way to do all of that while putting herself through law school as she simultaneously struggled with medical issues, being a "sexual deviant," and alway [...]

    3. This is a very passionate book on two very impassionate people – Eleanor Roosevelt and Pauli Murray. Both these women evolved tremendously during their lifetimes. They both sought social change.Pauli Murray was a woman of mixed racial heritage and in her youth spent time with relatives in North Carolina where she experienced prejudice as both a person of colour and as a woman. When she left the South to live in the North she rarely returned. Pauli Murray was a very sensitive person and could n [...]

    4. I try to read everything I can find about Eleanor Roosevelt. This book surprised me with new information about Eleanor Roosevelt. I am always amazed at the energy and wide interest of ER. I had not heard of Pauli Murray before reading this book. This turns out to be my second book on black history for the February Black History Month first met Pauli Murray in 1943 when Murray was living at Camp Tera, a New Deal Facility in New York for unemployed women. Eleanor had pressured them to accept black [...]

    5. I love Pauli Murray and truly admire her lifelong struggle for civil rights on behalf of African Americans, women, and LGBT people. Although she and Eleanor Roosevelt only met in person a few times they shared a decades-long friendship and a fascinating and feisty correspondence. It was illuminating to learn how much Pauli Murray influenced and pushed the First Lady in her civil rights outlook. ER was a woman receptive to the cause, but she and Murray did clash a few times when Roosevelt told Mu [...]

    6. This is a pretty good biography, but an extraordinary life. Two lives, actually, but one was already familiar. In any case, it's much more about Pauli Murray, and she is a revelation. She is one of those timeless characters that defy in their thinking all constraints of their times and life circumstances. One stares in awe at her ability to be exactly who she was, and to develop her passion for universal justice. The interaction with Eleanor Roosevelt, and the generous samplings of her letters a [...]

    7. It took me a while to finish this book (combination of being easily distracted + compulsion to look up names, facts & figures from various historical periods that I'm interested in), but I'm very glad I stuck with it! Before reading this book, I knew relatively little about Eleanor Roosevelt (other than basic common knowledge information), and absolutely nothing about Pauli Murray. I felt inspired to finally pick up this book after reading this informative New Yorker article about Murray ear [...]

    8. So interesting to learn about both women, and the relationship that developed between them over decades. Makes me want to learn more about both. I found it super interesting, and OK I do love history, but think many people would be intrigued by the stories of Murray's outrage and ER's efforts to support African Americans from her position as The World's First Lady.

    9. Unlike many readers, I knew more about the life of Pauli Murray than I did about that of Eleanor Roosevelt when I picked up The Firebrand the First Lady. I can’t do justice to the scope of this book, except to say that we owe Patricia Bell-Scott an enormous debt of gratitude for the painstaking research and comprehensive timeline she provides of the intersection of the lives of two great women in American history. For anyone seeking the inspiration of a tireless activist on behalf of African A [...]

    10. Entertaining and educational - very enjoyable read. Pauli Murray's life makes the reader almost ashamed of how little she ( meaning me) has accomplished. This woman was a whirling derbish of activity. Often we think of progress in our lives as progressing in a straight line. Pauli proves that wrong - her hopscotching career with varied degrees in varied interests, from private to government to educational work is astounding Her religious focus at the end of the life did seem logical but I kept w [...]

    11. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in American social history in the 1930s and 40s. Pauli Murray was deeply involved in early struggles for social justice, forerunners of the Civil Rights and Women's movements of the post-war period. Through her story, the reader gains a great appreciation of all the women and men, Black and White, who worked against all odds and laid the groundwork for nondiscrimination in housing, fair trials, an end to the poll tax, etc. As an African America [...]

    12. I really admire women like Pauli Murray (and Eleanor Roosevelt) who pushed the limits of womanhood and activism in their own way. It was interesting to learn about this friendship and get context about each of their lives. I was a little exhausted by the length of the book and found that I needed to take long-ish breaks from it to keep my interest going. Tremendous work by Patricia Bell Scott - I could really feel her admiration and respect for the life of Pauli Murray.

    13. This was not a perfectly breezy read, but in these times, I found it inspiring. It introduced me to a woman I had never previously heard of, Pauli Murray, & expanded my understanding of Eleanor Roosevelt. But most of all, it left me with hope in what for me is a dark time.

    14. IQ "I learned by watching her in action over a period of three decades that each of us is culture-bound by the era in which we live, and that the greatest challenge to the individual is to try and move to the very boundaries of our historical limitations and to project ourselves toward future centuries." (Pauli, 354)I can't quite remember where I first read about Pauli Murray, it was either in a Slate article about her influence on RBG/general legal scholar bad assery or it was in the New Yorker [...]

    15. This is one of the most extraordinary books I have read in a long time, about a largely unrecognized heroine of the civil rights movement. According to the Pauli Murray Project web site, Pauli Murray "was a ground-breaking civil rights activist, lawyer, educator, writer, and Episcopal priest. She served as a bridge figure between social movements through her advocacy for both women’s and civil rights. Her efforts were critical to retaining 'sex' in Title VII, a fundamental legal protection for [...]

    16. I was fascinated by this book. It filled in pieces of my historical memory I wasn't even aware was really missing. Bell-Scott writes an easy to read and thoroughly engaging portrait of contemporary women from opposite sides of the racial, gender and economic divide. Starting out as verbal sparring partners, the Pauli Murray (Negro activist, writer, lawyer, poet, priest) and Eleanor Roosevelt (First Lady, teacher, and UN Ambassador) forge an unlikely friendship over the years and often work toget [...]

    17. I struggle with how to rate this book, just as I struggled with reading it. I was enthralled at the beginning, but I wanted to learn more about the personal connection between these two amazing women. Somewhere around page 180 (out of 360 in my edition), I began checking after every couple of chapters to see how many pages were left to slog through. On the other hand, it's extremely well researched, so if you enjoy biographical writing that's full of dates & names & titles & places, [...]

    18. I loved reading this book and the historical context around this friendship was fascinating. Civic action and our ongoing fight for civil rights has always been a key element to our functioning democratic society and we cannot be complacent now. There are contradictory forces waiting for us to put our guard down so they can claim the moral high ground and take our free society back to the turn of the century. Every female today owes a debt of gratitude to Eleanor Roosevelt and Pauli Murray for t [...]

    19. This was very interesting. It was written more from the perspective of Murray than ER. I was glad to have the background knowledge of ER that I do before reading this. Any ER fan will love this book, any reader of the social justice movement will love this. It's a well researched and written story of two unlikely friends and how having ER in her life helped Murray when she struggled and to get things accomplished. It was exhausting to listen to the struggle for justice and the struggle of self f [...]

    20. I wanted more: more personal details, more relationship details. I felt myself not understanding how these women became friends other than in the most tangential ways. The words said they were close; the writing did not prove it to me. These are two amazing, pioneering, influential women. Their relationship might have even a singular force in our country in the 20th century. Each woman had high-powered spheres of influence. I think I had to fill in a lot of the sinew and ligaments of the story t [...]

    21. I knew very little about Mrs Roosevelt and nothing about Pauli Murray going in, and loved finding out about them. The book primarily focuses on Murray and her life, with the interactions with ER highlighted and context of ER's life at those times added. It doesn't shy away from their weaknesses and mistakes, which is nice in a positive bio. I felt that it gave me a strong understanding of both women, and of how their interactions with politics changed over the years. I now want to read bios of a [...]

    22. I really enjoyed this book for I learned much about the early fights for civil rights and women’s rights. Pauli Murray was a woman I had not heard of before. But she did much to advance the rights of Negros (the term she always used for herself), and in the later years, women’s rights. Her friendship with ER was an interesting one, and made me admire ER even more. They brought out good qualities in each other. A good read!

    23. Very good, but just short of excellent, as the author sometimes seemed to have a hard time leaving out even the most mundane details (long lists of every person who appeared at a conference with Murray), and this dragged the book down a bit. But really just a quibble — well worth wading through these details to get at the story of Pauli Murray — a fascinating, truly courageous, brave and brilliant woman — and her remarkable friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt.

    24. Read for a book club and at first I wasn’t sure I would finish it, but I realized this was a very interesting history lesson of two women from different walks of life. Concentrates on the 1930’s to present. There is a lot about civil and women’s rights. Some of the organizations and characters except the two main ones: Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt could sometimes get confusing with similar names, initials and goals.

    25. An interesting and, at times, inspiring story of a friendship. If I could somehow turn down the dial on specific detail, I would, but I am really happy that I read this. In particular, I admired how Pauli Murray pushed for civil rights, womens rights, and even (in her own way) gay rights as a cohesive whole. She knew they were integrated and that all kinds of human dignity mattered. I look forward to reading Murray's book "Proud Shoes".

    26. One of my favorite books this year. How could I have not known about Pauli Murray! This remarkable civil rights and women's rights activist should be as well known as Rosa Parks. I can't wait to read her book now. The book is well written, filled with historical facts. I expected more about their friendship and Eleanor Roosevelt but still totally worth it.

    27. I didn't know anything about Pauli Murray before reading this book. The friendship between the two women was not particularly strong, but they were polite acquaintances throughout their lives. Murray was a source of information for Roosevelt and helped her gain a deeper understanding of social issues for which she was a lifelong advocate.

    28. I loved this very important book. It gave me yet another viewpoint with which to try to understand our country's struggle with civil rights and social justice. Looking close up at intricate layers of how change happens was quite illuminating, and confirmation that all change happens one relationship at a time.

    29. An extremely well-written, compelling historical biography, which is enlightening both in its examination of the discrimination against Black people and women and its portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt as an effective ally.

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