WHO: Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt
WHAT: A portrait of their friendship
by Patricia Bell-Scott
WHEN: Published by Knopf February 4, 2016
WHERE: The author lives in Athens, GA.
WHY: “A groundbreaking portrait of two tireless and innovative champions of human dignity.
“Eleanor Roosevelt, born to privilege, prosperity, and power, first crossed paths with Pauli Murray, the granddaughter of a slave struggling against racism and poverty, in 1934 when the First Lady visited an upstate New York facility for unemployed women. Murray was in residence after fleeing the Jim Crow South to put herself through college in Manhattan. Four years later, Murray sent the opening salvo in what became a fervent correspondence that lasted until Roosevelt’s death, as these two brilliant, courageous, committed trailblazers—both orphaned young, taunted for their appearance, devoted to reading and writing, boundlessly energetic, and fiercely independent—joined forces to fight for justice and equality.
“Bell-Scott meticulously chronicles their boundary-breaking friendship, telling each remarkable woman’s story within the context of the crises of the times, from ongoing racial violence to WWII and the vicious battle over school integration, creating a sharply detailed and profoundly illuminating narrative. Roosevelt’s heroic compassion and world-altering accomplishments shine with fresh significance, while Murray’s phenomenal life of ‘firsts’ delivers one astonishment after another. A clarion writer and seminal civil rights activist, a professor with a doctorate in law and an Episcopalian priest, Murray analyzed and protested every manifestation of discrimination she encountered based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Bell-Scott’s groundbreaking portrait adds an essential and edifying facet to American history.”
—Donna Seaman, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
“A stellar work of scholarship.
A fresh look at Eleanor Roosevelt and a fascinating exploration of a cherished, mutually beneficial friendship.” —KIRKUS, in a starred review
“An absorbing historical page-turner.”
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, in a featured starred review
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