Friday, July 1, 2016

For All the Saints: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Pauli Murray

I've been out of the country for three weeks and intentionally left my MacBook at home. So I haven't written anything here for a while. Time to begin again.

On the Episcopal calendar, Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) is honored as a prophetic witness on this anniversary of her death. Of course, she was an abolitionist and author whose 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin galvanized the public concerning slavery and did much (both through the novel itself and its dramatized version) to inspire antislavery sentiments in the country. A member of the famous Beecher family, she wrote thirty books altogether.

Anna Pauline "Pauli" Murray (1910-1985) is also honored today on that calendar, also on the anniversary of her death. She was a civil rights and women's wrights activist, the first African American to receive a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from Yale, and also the first black woman
to be ordained as an Episcopal priest. She was also an author, whose book on race laws in the country was (in Thurgood Marshall's word) the bible of the civil rights movement. As this article puts it, "A black feminist lesbian who 'favored a masculine-of-center gender performance during her 20s and 30s,' she dedicated her work to challenging preconceived notions of race, gender, sexuality and religion."

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