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This Essay considers post-suffrage women’s citizenship through the eyes of Pauli Murray, a key figure at the intersection of the twentieth-century movements for racial justice and feminism. Murray drew critical lessons from the woman suffrage movement and the Reconstruction-era disintegration of an abolitionist-feminist alliance to craft legal and constitutional strategies that continue to shape equality law and advocacy today. Murray placed African American women at the center of a vision of universal human rights that relied upon interracial and intergenerational alliances and anticipated what scholars later named intersectionality. As Murray foresaw, women of color formed a feminist vanguard in the second half of the twentieth century, pioneering social movements and legal claims that enjoyed significant success. But Murray’s hope that women’s solidarity could overcome ideological divides and the legacy of white supremacy went unfulfilled. As a result, the more expansive visions of racial, sexual, economic, and reproductive justice that intersectional advocacy produced remain the most pressing unfinished business of sex equality today, at the Nineteenth Amendment’s centennial.


Women's rights, equality, Nineteenth Amendment, discrimination, rights revolution, legal history, intersectionality, Pauli Murray

Publication Title

Yale Law Journal Forum

Publication Citation

129 Yale L.J. F. 512 (2019)