Pauli Murray was a civil rights lawyer and later an Episcopalian priest. In 1940, 15 years before Rosa Parks, Murray was jailed for refusing to move to the back of a bus in the Jim Crow south. In 1943, she campaigned successfully to desegregate her local diner, 17 years before the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins of 1960. Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer for the 1954 Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, which de-segregated US schools,, called Murray’s book States’ Laws on Race and Color “the bible for civil rights lawyers”.
Murray also co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW), in 1966, alongside Betty Friedan. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg won the Reed v Reed case in 1971, which ruled that discrimination “on the basis of sex” was unconstitutional, her arguments were built on Murray’s work. Ginsburg named Murray as co-author of the brief.