The new residential colleges will be named for Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray and Benjamin Franklin. These decisions were the product of extensive input from the university’s alumni, students, and faculty — who submitted thousands of comments and suggestions — and careful deliberation by and discussion among the trustees of the Yale Corporation (the university’s governing board) over several years.
“Both Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray were committed life-long learners who believed in the power of education to transform individuals and societies,” Salovey said.
Pauli Murray College will honor a Yale alumna (’65 J.S.D., ’79 Hon. D.Div.) noted for her achievements in law and religion, and for her leadership in civil rights and the advancement of women. Anna Pauline Murray, known throughout her life as Pauli Murray, enrolled at Hunter College in the 1920s, graduating in 1933 after deferring her studies following the Great Depression. Later, she began an unsuccessful campaign to enter the all-white University of North Carolina. Murray’s case received national publicity, and she became widely recognized as a civil rights activist.
United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall cited her book, "States’ Laws on Race and Color," for its influence on the lawyers fighting segregation laws. President John F. Kennedy appointed her to the Committee on Civil and Political Rights of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Awarded a fellowship by the Ford Foundation, Murray pursued a doctorate in law at Yale in order to further her scholarly work on gender and racial justice. She co-authored "Jane Crow and the Law: Sex discrimination and Title VII," in which she drew parallels between gender-based discrimination and Jim Crow laws. In 1965, she received her J.S.D. from the Yale Law School, becoming the first African-American to do so. Her dissertation was titled "Roots of the Racial Crisis: Prologue to Policy." Immediately thereafter, she served as counsel in White v. Crook, which successfully challenged discrimination on the basis of sex and race in jury selection. She was a cofounder, with 31 others, of the National Organization for Women.
Murray was a vice president of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina; she left to become a professor at Brandeis University, where she earned tenure and taught until 1973. She was the first person to teach African-American studies and women’s studies at Brandeis.
The final stage of Murray’s career continued a life marked by confronting challenges and breaking down barriers. At age 63, inspired by her connections with other women in the Episcopal Church, she left Brandeis and enrolled at the General Theological Seminary. She became the first African-American woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.
“Pauli Murray represents the best of Yale: a pre-eminent intellectual inspired to lead and prepared to serve her community and her country,” said Salovey. “She was at the intellectual forefront of the battles that defined 20th-century America and continue to be part of our discourse today: civil rights, women’s rights, and the role of spirituality in modern society.”