The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice

The Firebrand and the First Lady is the first book written about the friendship between the brilliant African American activist, writer, lawyer and priest Pauli Murray and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. It offers a fresh perspective on their times as well as their lives, spanning the worlds of the American elite, educated urban radicals and the working classes.

Professor and author Patricia Bell-Scott (Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women) offers a lively portrait of this friendship and Murray's life story. When she first met Roosevelt, Murray was a college-educated grassroots activist with direct experience in poverty, racism and New Deal work and welfare programs. In 1938, she wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and cc'ed his wife, who replied. A few letters later, Eleanor Roosevelt invited Murray to tea. "As ER listened, her blue eyes alert with interest, Murray had the sense that she was 'talking with an affectionate older relative.' " They bonded over the unsuccessful death sentence appeal of sharecropper Odell Waller, and built their friendship on a foundation of mutual sympathy, respect and honesty. Through sharing their perspectives on subjects including integration, labor, war, legal cases and political campaigns, they expanded their worldviews and fueled their passions for revolutionary social change. "It is because of people like you that I still cling to the democratic ideal--symbolized by the American family," wrote Murray in 1946. "It is possible to have every political shade from Republican to 'revolutionary pacifist' (that's me) within the same blood ties and yet move forward toward a common ideal." --Sara Catterall 

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