Anna Pauli Murray Now Featured at Museum

By Rodney Lofton

Black History Museum of VirginiaThis past February, Diversity Richmond reached out to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia to host a number of events in recognition of Black LGBTQ History Month. The month- long recognition celebrated the contributions of Richmond’s Black LGBTQ Community.

That partnership continues to flourish, as Diversity Richmond prepares for the 2nd Annual Black LGBTQ History recognition this coming February 2018.

I recently received an email from interim executive director Adele Johnson, stating, “I hope you can stop by, I have something to share with you.”

Without hesitation, I responded. I have to say when Adele reaches out to you, you can be assured that it is something exciting. On a recent visit/meeting with Adele, she shared with me original printing of the black LGBTQ publication BLK. With the magazine folding, they elected to share their collection with the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia. What a treasure of Black LGBTQ history and stories, reflecting our experiences, now housed at BHMVA.

As always, I was greeted by Heather and Ms. Mary, staff members of BHMVA as they initiated a call to Adele that I had arrived. The always elegant and stunning Adele greeted me with a warm and friendly hug and that smile, what a smile.

She thanked me as we headed out the door to the surprise that awaited me. She shared a previous conversation she and I had a while back, about the possibilities of BHMVA including the work and history of the Black LGBTQ community. As we headed around the corner to the Leigh Street view of the building, she shared, “I took your advice.” And there it was.

A prominent banner, displaying African-American history makers, some not known to the general public but history makers in our community. There atop one of the prominent banners, was a photo of Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray, the 1st African-American woman ordained as an Episcopal Priest.

“Pauli” Murray, struggled with her gender and sexual orientation, although her long term relationships were with women. She shared that she sometimes felt like a man, trapped in a woman’s body.

But she has made history yet again and the Black History Museum & Cultural Center has made history here in Richmond. Kudos to Adele Johnson and the incredible staff of the Black History Museum.

To learn more about Anna Pauline ”Pauli” Murray, visit the Black History Museum, located at 122 West Leigh Street, Richmond, VA 23220 or call (804) 780-9093.