"Hope is a Song in a Weary Heart"- A 3-Part Series on Lesser-Known Heroines for Black History Month

Posted by Rachel Tapling on Feb 9, 2017 12:08:00 PM

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rosa Parks

Harriet Tubman

Pauli Murray

Your students probably recognize the first three names of incredible and resilient leaders from previous studies of Black History Month, but do they recognize the fourth name?

Do you?



Allow me to introduce you to Pauli Murray.

She was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus 15 years before Rosa Parks.

Her book, States' Laws on Race and Color, “was used by NAACP leader Thurgood Marshall in the organization's legal strategy on Brown v. the Board of Education, and Marshall referred to Murray's book as "the Bible for civil rights lawyers.".

She was a poet.

She was a queer woman who called herself a “dude”, and later (officially) dubbed, a saint.

She co-authored an article about “Jane Crow”, which opened a conversation about the intersection of racism and sexism.

She was the first African American woman to become a priest in the Episcopal church, and co-founded the National Organization of Women (NOW).

And now you know….

Her fearless life demands an investigation with your students!

Hers is the first of three lesser-known Civil Rights leaders for your classroom during Black History Month.

Below is a video to help with your study, along with three activities to use in your lesson plan:

This video, appropriate for students 4th grade and up, details Murray’s extraordinary life and contributions to equality in just a few minutes. Well worth the class time!

  1. Have students make a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram “page” for Murray using this free download. Students can create this using notes from the video, or conduct additional research if you’d like to extend the activity.
  1. Have students draw a comic strip or picture that illustrates what life would be like for women, African Americans and the LGBT community without courageous contributions from women like Murray.

     3.Using the following poem as a template and these additional resources of her               poetry, have students write their own poem. Challenge them to describe what                 hope is to them.

“Hope is a song in a weary throat.
Give me a song of hope
And a world where I can sing it.
Give me a song of faith
And a people to believe in it.
Give me a song of kindliness
And a country where I can live it.
Give me a song of hope and love
And a brown girl’s heart to hear it.”

pauli murray.jpg

What do Pauli Murray’s contributions mean to you? How can you convey them to your students?

Next Week: “The ‘Mother of the Movement’ Whose Spirit Ignited Rosa Parks- Who is Septima Clark?

Topics: Classroom Ideas, Writing, Technology, Literacy

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