Pauli Murray receives honorary degree from Howard University

Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray was posthumously recognized with an honorary Doctor of Laws on May 13, 2017 during the 149th Commencement Convocation on the campus of Howard University.

Murray, a 1944 Howard University School of Law graduate, was a quiet force behind some of the most iconic civil rights and social justice events of the 20th century. Murray graduated first in her class, but was denied the chance to do post-graduate work at Harvard University because of her gender. She was the only female in her Howard University Law School class in 1944.  She earned a master's degree in law at University of California, Berkeley, and in 1965 she became the first African American to receive a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from Yale Law School.

Along with Betty Friedan and 30 others, Murray was a founding member of the National Organization for Women. One of the last achievements of her remarkable life was to be the first African-American woman ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1977. Murray passed away in 1985.

Other honorary recipients included anchorwoman Maureen Bunyan; Howard University graduate professor of English Eleanor W. Traylor; and Howard University alumna and U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris. Murray’s degree was accepted by her great-niece Karen Ross.

Karen Ross