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5 pages/≈1375 words
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Book Report
English (U.S.)
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Racial and Gender Segregation in the 20th Century (Book Report Sample)


This option will ask you to read and analyze selections from the autobiography of Pauli Murray, The Autobiography of a Black Activist, Feminist, Lawyer, Priest, and Poet, in the context of our course themes and the broader historical events and issues we have covered thus far in the semester (through Week 12). For this option, Murray's autobiography should be the central source from which you draw and your paper should pull from various points in Murray's life, but you are also welcome to incorporate external research within the parameters described in Point 9 of the Plagiarism & Citations section below.
You will need to choose one of the following options to address in your paper:
1. How do Murray's race and/or gender identities shape her understanding of American society in the 20th Century? You are welcome to focus on either Murray's race or gender as your primary frame of analysis here, but the best papers will be able to address the intersection of these identities and the overlapping and/or conflicting ways in which her race and gender affect her life experiences.
2. How does Murray protest inequality and injustice in American society over the course of her life? Your answer should address at least one of the following issues as you form your argument: why she feels compelled to act, why she chooses the tactics that she does, or how her strategies of protest evolve over time.


Student Name
Racial and Gender Segregation in the 20th Century
Pauli Murray was a civil rights activist and feminist who was fighting for equal rights for African Americans and women in America. She started as a lawyer and later pursued the priesthood in her attempts to counter sexual discrimination. She faced various forms of discrimination in the course of her career and life in general. These discriminatory acts fueled her spirit to become a civil rights activist in order to fight for equality for all people regardless of one's gender or race. In collaboration with other like-minded women and activists, they were integral in combating racism and sexism that plagued much of the twentieth century. The essay examines Pauli Murray's life experiences before she succumbed to cancer through her autobiography and how her identity as an African American woman shaped her understanding of the American society in the 20th Century.
Pauli Murray's insistent and “never give up” attitude guided her life to achieve the unattainable. She became everything she possibly could be against the imposed limitations of being black and a woman at that period. Orphaned at a very young age, she sorts personal strength in the love of her extended family through which she retraced her roots and heritage that she all put in her book Proud Shoes: The story of an American family. Paul alludes to this fact in her autobiography and states, “Almost everything I knew about my parents came from their pictures, the few letters, and books they left behind, and the recollections of my aunts, grandparents and other people who knew them”. She categorically attributes her upbringing to the responsible care she received from her aunt Pauline who was also her godmother. She shares through the stories given to her by Aunt Pauline the lives of her parents William and Agnes in a “white” society, but who were privileged to both come from close-knit religious families with high ideals. They were branded as “colored” people and most people during that time like her mother tended to white peoples chores such as laundry. During this period there were very few development opportunities for colored people and especially colored women who resorted to marriage and by so doing live in the shadow of men. She gives an example of her Aunt Rose, who had to leave school and get married... She notes “Education beyond elementary school for people of color was extremely hard to come by and more specifically few opportunities for development existed for young colored women. Aunt Rose left school and married early and when her marriage did not work out, she came home again to live in the shadow of her menfolk”. It's also in these early chapters of her autobiography that we understand that Pauli got her ferocious and hardworking attitude from her father whose tenacity made him pursue his dream of going and graduating from a university. Pauli mentions, “It was a measure of my father's tenacity in pursuing the elusive goal that he graduated from the Howard University college preparatory department”. Pauli's historical background greatly shaped her life and all that she pursued as an activist and feminist in attempts to make a difference.[Murray, Pauli. Song In A Weary Throat. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.] [Murray 4] [Ibid 4]
Paul shares that she learned of the two races, “colored people” and “white people” by observing her family the Fitzgerald's that adopted her after the demise of her parents. She shares “My consciousness of the world beyond the family developed on two planes, “the race of the colored people and the &...

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  • Racial and Gender Segregation in the 20th Century
    Description: The essay examines Pauli Murray's life experiences before she succumbed to cancer through her autobiography and how her identity as an African American woman shaped her understanding of the American society in the 20th Century....
    5 pages/≈1375 words | 1 Source | Chicago | History | Book Report |
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