Movie Review: ‘My Name is Pauli Murray’

The Voice of a Forgotten Hero.

Many of us remember the many names of the champions during the civil rights movement – Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X always come to mind, but does the name Pauli Murray sound familiar?

In the documentary, “My Name is Pauli Murray,” directed by Julie Cohen and Besty West, we learn the history 15 years before Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Pauli Murray, and their friend, were arrested for violating bus segregation rules that almost sparked the start of the civil rights movement 15 years early.

This pair of directors have been well known for their work on their acclaimed documentary “RBG,” which was based on the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In this film, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was quoted as crediting Murray as her inspiration. Cohen and West have had many other documentary projects and this documentary is still filled with passion, dedication and care for the memory and respect of Pauli Murray.

As a poet, activist, priest, lawyer, and non-binary black person, Pauli Murray’s story is one of trials and tribulations.

By connecting with living family and those who had connections to Murray, the film gives an in-depth summary and recollection of their life. Murray’s accomplishments and hardships are both heavily explored in this documentary; from graduating the top of their law class at Howard to being denied the chance to continue law work at Havard on the basis of gender.

The film examines the many hardships Murray faced and invites the viewer to connect with and celebrate Murray’s accomplishments, as well as mourn and be heartbroken when the archaic institutions and societal norms aim to push Murray out and tear them down.

Nonetheless, this incredible activist achieved so much in life and paved the way for future generations of activists to build upon their work and keep on their fight.

“Hope is a song in a weary throat,” Murray said. “Give me a song of hope, and a world where I can sing it.”

This documentary is a must-watch for anyone because of how Murrary’s story incites hope and change. It is a film for those wanting to learn the history of the Black experience in 20th century America, especially those interested in human rights and seeing a champion fight for their own rights and the rights of others.

This amazing documentary is available on Amazon Prime Video.

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