PBS Quotes banner overlay

// Quotes from The Firebrand and the First Lady //


Eleanor Roosevelt with granddaughter Sara “Sally” Roosevelt (left), whom Pauli Murray and her niece Bonnie Fearing met at Val-Kill the weekend a category 4 hurricane struck New York State, October 15-17, 1954. ER’s “indomitable courage” in the face of this ferocious storm was an “example” that would inspire Murray for years to come. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library)

Patricia Bell-Scott The Firebrand and the First Lady

“For me, becoming friends with Mrs. Roosevelt was a slow, painful process, marked by sharp exchanges of correspondence, often anger on my side and exasperation on her side, and a gradual development of mutual admiration and respect.”

—PAULI MURRAY, “Challenging Mrs. R.,” The Hunter Magazine, September 1983

“One of my finest young friends is a charming woman lawyer–Pauli Murray, who has been quite a firebrand at times but of whom I am very fond.”

—ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, “Some of My Best Friends Are Negro,” Ebony, February 1953

“The measure of her greatness was her capacity for growth, her ruthless honesty with herself, and the generosity with which she responded to criticisms.”

—PAULI MURRAY, Song in a Weary Throat, 1987

“I have known Miss Murray for a long time and she is a very brilliant girl.”

—ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, to David Morse of the International Labour Organization in Geneva, concerning Pauli Murray’s application for a staff position, June 14, 1951

“She asked me of my future plans and seemed to approve. You would have thought I was talking to either you or Aunt Sallie, the way she talked to me.”

—PAULI MURRAY to mother (Pauline Fitzgerald Dame), regarding her first White House visit with Eleanor Roosevelt, 4 June 1943

“When more whites and Negroes become friends and lose whatever self-consciousness they started out with, we shall have a much happier world.”

—ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, “Some of My Best Friends Are Negro,” Ebony, February 1953