Proud Shoes by Pauli Murray

Proud Shoes

First published in 1956, Proud Shoes is the remarkable true story of slavery, survival, and miscegenation in the South from the pre-Civil War era through the Reconstruction. Written by Pauli Murray the legendary civil rights activist and one of the founders of NOW, Proud Shoes chronicles the lives of Murray's maternal grandparents. From the birth of her grandmother, Cornelia Smith, daughter of a slave whose beauty incited the master's sons to nea...

Details Proud Shoes

TitleProud Shoes
Release DateAug 1st, 1999
PublisherBeacon Press
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Race, North American Hi..., American History, Feminism, Cultural, African American, Academic, School, Biography Memoir

Reviews Proud Shoes

  • Karen
    Dr. Pauli Murray was my father's first cousin, so it was amazing to learn much of my family's history through her writing. Although I never knew her, she was an amazing woman and I'm so proud of the shoes she wore.
  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
    Pauli Murray mural in her hometown of Durham, North CarolinaThis book is a hidden gem: the biography of a mixed-race family around the time of the Civil War. It was published well before its time – in 1956 there wasn’t much interest in African-American family sagas – but it is well-written and fascinating in part because this isn’t a commonly-told story. Murray was a fascinating character in her own right – a prominent civil rights and ...
  • Jennifer
    I am so glad to have read Proud Shoes! Pauli Murray came from a fascinating family. Their story sheds light on so many aspects of race in American history: pre- and post-Civil War race relations, tensions in boarder states, "passing" for white, "family" life for slaves, complex emotions surrounding children born of masters raping slaves, and high hopes following the Civil War fading with the advent of Jim Crow laws, just to name a few. The fact t...
  • Elizabeth
    This book is mainly about the lives of the author's maternal grandparents. Murray does a wonderful job of weaving together her family's stories with extensive research to corroborate them and of the time period in general. It has accounts of her great-grandparents in the 1830s and 40s and moves through the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. It gave me a great sense of the time period in the locations described.
  • Chet Makoski
    This remarkable story is largely set in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough where I now live. I gained profound insights into black family life as slaves and free persons prior to the civil war, during that war, and afterwards during reconstruction and into the mid-20th century. Pauli Murray was a brilliant writer, story-teller, and a scholarly researcher uncovering her own family history. I love this book, honor this woman, and greatly admire her famil...
  • Chalida
    This was a powerful book that gives you a different lens of Civil Rights history and told from the eyes of Pauli Murray recounting her great grandparents' histories. Published in 1956, Murray has really interesting stories of race and the very mixed history of her family and many others which was the norm and not divided into these concepts of purely black and white. The second half of the book focuses on her grandfather's desperation to prove hi...
  • Tracy Triggs matthews
    Loved this book! It's a great history of racism.
  • Julie
    Very slow-paced, especially in the middle, but I learned a good bit especially about North Carolina history in the late 1800s. This quote about the common human longing for freedom, dignity, and self-determination vs practical manifestations of having the privilege to access them in 1860s America really struck me- "Freedom was not something you could hold in your hands and look at. It was something inside you which refused to die, a feeling, an u...
  • Barbara Barnett
    I recently searched and found this book in the library after reading "The Firebrand and the First Lady" about Pauli Murray's friendship with Elenor Roosevelt. What a great book and so much history about the aftermath of the civil war. She told an intimate story based on writings from her grandfather's journal. His journal covered both his experiences as a soldier during the war and as a teacher in the south after the war. Most moving, to me, was ...
  • Deb Aronson
    Wow. Pauli Murray's family story is a remarkable, intimate look at our legacy of slavery and all its complexities. Her grandmother was proud of her heritage as part of a white family in the south. But her father wasa white slave owner who raped her mother (Murray's great grandmother), a slave. Murray's grandfather, who came to NC to help teach freedmen had such integrity and yet he faced the kind of resistance from the white school system that it...
  • Lois
    After reading that Pauli Murray's childhood home in Durham will be a National Historic Site, I realized that I needed to learn more about this woman. This is more the story of her grandparents than her own story, but it is filled with the drama of American history from the Cival War through the 1960's. Race is a huge factor, as is the difficulties of living in the South during those years. Murray, who did remarkable things with her life, is an in...
  • Becky
    A groundbreaking work not only of African American history, but of American history, by a pioneer of the civil rights movement.Murray's prose is compulsively readable; she writes with sensitivity and insight about her maternal grandparents' (incredibly dramatic!) early lives, their mixed-race family origins in antebellum Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and her own vivid memories of growing up in Durham, NC during the Jim Crow era.I'm looking for...
  • Helen
    I wanted to give this 5 stars for content and the amazing courage and life of Pauli Murray. I gave it 4 stars because I couldn't feel much. I learned so much about Black life in PA (my state) in the time of Jim Crow. Pauli Murray lived at the same time as my parents, her aunts at the same time as my grandparents which gave me a perspective on their lives and time that I had not put together previously.
  • Rita Reese
    So glad to have discovered Pauli Murray. The writing she does about her family's experience of Reconstruction shows the foundations of our current struggles so clearly. She's also a great storyteller with more than her fair share of fascinating stories and memorable characters. This is one of the few books that I wish everyone I knew would read.
  • Jenai Jackson
    Really enjoyed reading this. The war commentary was a bit heavy for me but overall the story was engaging. It was interesting because a lot of the issues that were written about are still relevant and important today. It was eye opening to see how some things never change and how history does in fact repeat itself.
  • Rachel
    What an amazing and inspiring story. Pauli Murray's book gave me such new insight about the South and, more particularity, about the lives of black families before, during, and following the Civil War
  • Kathy Bartlett
    I found this book a fascinating look into the history of a Durham hero. It gave me a view of the Civil War and slavery that I had never seen - real people and the challenges they faced. It really helped that I have been to the Pauli Murray house several times and could picture it in my mind.
  • Peggii
    Became a big fan of Pauli Murray. She is a great writer and a strong historian.
  • Marci
    Really enjoyed learning of the history of Pauli Murray. Want to read more of her in the future.
  • Mary Tuttle
    Excellent memoir. I am now reading the sequel, "Song in a Weary Throat." Eye-opening; bringing light to the evils of Jim Crow and the courage of those who fought against it.
  • Emily Munro-Hernandez
    Absolutely amazing
  • Sandi
    Intense story of a family of blacks who are very proud of their roots
  • Donnell
    Why is not everyone in America required to read this book? This is an important story of American history, and too few people know it. Agree with Gloria Steinem's comment--"Present day America can not be understood without the true stories like the ones Murray tells." The anchor of the book is Murray's telling of the lives of her two maternal grandparents who raised her. Her Grandfather Fitzgerald, a Union Army Civil war veteran who deliberately ...
  • Ann
    This was an interesting family history told by Paule Myrray, a founder of NOW (National Organization for Women.) She pays homage to her grandparents and great grandparenst, documenting the life of "freedmen" of color as well as the lives of slaves who later become free. Although I had heard the terms "quadroon" and "octoroon" -- but associated the terms more with South Africa than with the USA. However, it seemed to be an important issue in North...
  • Empress5150
    Many of us last night in book club pondered why this book is not on the "must read" list for junior high-high school-college. It should be, especially here in the South and in particular in Durham.Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray crafted a phenomenal balance between telling the story of her maternal grandparents (and their parents) and her own upbringing in rural Durham NC against the backdrop of history of those times (pre Civil War, Civil War, etc.); doin...
  • Heather
    Pauli Murray -- reared in Durham, civil rights lawyer, first black woman ordained in the Episcopal Church -- wrote this book to tell her nieces and nephews about their ancestors. In so doing, she presents her American family, with free blacks and enslaved blacks, poor whites and wealthy whites, all contributing their blood, fire, blind spots, and pride to the family tree. Murray's narrative style was not the most compelling, but the issues she ra...
  • Cynthia
    Proud Shoes: The Story of An American Family, Pauli Murray. This book was originally published in 1956, and is republished as a Scholar Select. It is most interesting. It begins when our narrator is a small child living with her grandparents and two aunts in Durham, NC. She tells the history of her grandparents' trials and tribulations of being mulattos. Grandfather had many occupations, mostly as an educator; he also served in the Union Army. Gr...
    The this collection of stories of Pauli Murray's family from slavery to "freedom" after the Civil War, and the restrictions imposed on the Blacks under "freedom" show how far we as Americans have come yet how far we still have to go.One of the most poignant lines in the book is also the most heartbreaking. It addresses how Blacks will never be free as long as there are those who think they are undeserving of equality. I don't have the book with m...
  • Dean
    Using his family history, Murray paints one of the best portraits of american history. Each side of his family tree had a "seminal moment" in their history. He traces how that family legend shaped the succeeding generations and the stories they told. How universal! Along the way he adds great insight into the everyday life through his Great Grandfathers diary against the background of historic events. WELL worth the time. Not an easy book to find...