Pauli Murray Childhood Home

906 Carroll Street, Durham, NC 27701

Pauli Murray, influential 20th Century human rights activist, grew up in Durham's West End neighborhood. Murray was a lawyer, feminist, poet and Episcopal priest.Her childhood home was named a National Treasure in 2015 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is currently being renovated and transformed into the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice. The PMCHSJ actively works, through its programming and operations, to increase engagement across divisions such as race, class, sexual & gender identity, and spiritual practice to address enduring inequities and injustice in our local, national and global communities. The Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice is scheduled to open to the public in 2020.

The home was built in 1898 by  Murray’s grandfather Robert Fitzgerald, was a black man and Civil War veteran. He came south to teach newly emancipated African Americans reading, writing and citizenship. “To his family, it [the house he built at 906 Carroll Street in the 1890s] was more than a home; it was a monument to Grandfather’s courage and tenacity,” Murray wrote in her 1956 memoir, Proud Shoes: The Story of An American Family. Robbed of his sight by injuries from the War, Fitzgerald supervised the laying of each board, brick and shingle by touch. “It was as if he had built himself into the structure, for it had his stubborn character.”

In Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, Pauli Murray shares the words of her grandmother, Cornelia Smith Fitzgerald, who had planted a young orchard on the property: “I won’t be here when these bear fruit, child, but they’re for your time.”The Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray may not be here to see her amazing work come to fruition, but we can be certain that the seeds she sowed were for our time.

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