At the intersections of gender and race, emerges an untold story of civil rights pioneer Pauli Murray in the documentary My Name Is Pauli Murray.
The Amazon Studios film centers on Pauli Murray, a queer Black lawyer and activist who influenced both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall.
Born Anna Pauline Murray in Baltimore in 1910, they were orphaned by age 13, having lost their mother Agnes to a brain hemorrhage at age 4, and then their father William after he was murdered at a state mental facility by a white guard.
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Anna Pauline was taken in by their maternal grandparents and a namesake aunt in Durham, North Carolina. Despite a tragic beginning, Anna Pauline proved to be an exceptional student and went on to college and graduate school.
In the 1930s, as Anna Pauline began exploring the social constructs of gender — what defines a man, what defines a woman — and how someone like them must navigate the world, they officially changed their name to Pauli.
Then in 1938, they took an active role in the civil rights movement. In 1940, a full 15 years before Rosa Parks famously challenged public transit segregation laws, Pauli unceremoniously served time for that very same act of defiance in Richmond, Virginia. Their passion for civil rights eventually led them to pursue a degree in law at Howard University.
A pioneering attorney, activist, and priest, Murray shaped landmark litigation — and consciousness — around race and gender equity. As the trailer states, “You may not know the name, but you live in Pauli’s legacy.”
Told largely in Pauli’s own words, the film is directed by award-winning RBG filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen.
My Name Is Pauli Murray premieres Oct. 1 on Amazon Prime Video. Watch the trailer below.