The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship; Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice

Patricia Bell-Scott. Knopf, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-0-679-44652-1
Bell-Scott (Life Notes), professor emerita of women’s studies and family science at the University of Georgia, deftly reveals two women’s crucial involvement in the struggle for civil rights. Pauli Murray, a young African American woman, crossed paths with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1934 when Murray was living at Camp Tera, a New Deal facility for unemployed women. The burgeoning professional relationship between these two smart, strong-minded, and ambitious women developed into genuine affection. They shared similar ideas about social justice, and each chose her own course of action. The fascinating, complex Murray takes center stage in this absorbing historical page-turner. In the decades before the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision and Rosa Parks’s 1955 bus protest, Murray challenged racial segregation at the University of North Carolina (1938) and on public transportation in Virginia (1940). As a law student in the early 1940s, she battled gender discrimination, foreshadowing her co-founding of the National Organization for Women in 1966. Until Roosevelt’s death in 1962, she supported Murray’s various projects and helped the younger woman with her career goals. Murray’s considerable achievements weren’t dependent on Roosevelt’s assistance; Bell-Scott brilliantly shows that the friendship equally enriched both women. Illus. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/07/2015
Release date: 02/02/2016
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-679-76729-9
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