Enshrining Proud Shoes in Brick and Mortar

An Alumna Contemplates Pauli Murray Hall

Illustration by Laura Freeman

Return to issue

Enshrining Proud Shoes in Brick and Mortar

An Alumna Contemplates Pauli Murray Hall

by Hilary N. Green
Southern Cultures, Vol. 26, No. 3: The Women’s Issue

"She grieved the 'what ifs' of an inclusive Chapel Hill campus community but expressed a fortitude necessary for perseverance."

Written one year after being denied admission to graduate school at UNC, Pauli Murray mourned the defeat dealt in her desegregation efforts by the Jim Crow–era campus oppressors. She grieved the “what ifs” of an inclusive Chapel Hill campus community but expressed a fortitude necessary for perseverance. Seventeen years later, she witnessed from afar the legal victory achieved by Ralph Frasier, LeRoy Frasier, and John Brandon in overturning the campus policy that prohibited the admission of African American students on September 16, 1955. She would have cheered on those African American students who later donned their regalia at graduation and earned the degree that she originally sought. In 2005, twenty years after her death, I attempted to fill Murray’s proud shoes as I embarked on my doctoral training in the history department.

RELATED CONTENT