The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice (Paperback)
A finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and longlisted for the National Book Award, The Firebrand and the First Lady is the riveting history, two decades in the making, of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist and the first lady of the United States forged an enduring friendship that helped to alter the course of race and racism in America.
In 1938, the twenty-eight-year-old Pauli Murray wrote a letter to the President and First Lady, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, protesting racial segregation in the South. Eleanor wrote back. So began a friendship that would last for a quarter of a century, as Pauli became a lawyer, principal strategist in the fight to protect Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a co-founder of the National Organization of Women, and Eleanor became a diplomat and first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
Lillian Smith Book Award
Finalist Georgia Author of the Year
Nominated Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award
About the Author
PATRICIA BELL-SCOTT is professor emerita of women’s studies and human development and family science at the University of Georgia. Her previous books include Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women, Flat-Footed Truths: Telling Black Women’s Lives, and Double Stitch: Black Women Write About Mothers & Daughters, which won the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband, Charles V. Underwood Jr.
A Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Award for Excellence in Nonfiction
Nominated for the National Book Award
A Washington Post Notable Book
A San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus, and Booklist Best Book of the Year
“Masterful. . . . Powerful and important.” —Boston Globe
“Thorough and engaging . . . Our lives are richer for the accounting of their friendship in this important book.” —The Washington Post
“Tremendous.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[Written] with the grace, compassion and diligent attention to detail that characterized both of its principal subjects. . . . ‘The Firebrand’ is someone whose inspiration is sorely needed.” —USA Today
“A definitive biography of Murray, a trailblazing legal scholar and a tremendous influence on Mrs. Roosevelt.” —Essence
“Bold, fast-paced, and vividly written, Patricia Bell-Scott's dual portrait of Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt significantly enhances the story of two luminous activists who learned much from each other across the color line.” —Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt: I, II, and III
“Extraordinary and inspiring.” —Shelf Awareness
“A fresh look at a fascinating friendship between two vivid individuals from very different worlds — as well as a chronicle of the age-old conflict between the highest ideals and the art of the possible.” —Geoffrey C. Ward, author of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
“A groundbreaking portrait . . . essential and edifying.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Should inspire all readers. Rarely has a friendship been dissected and analyzed with such verve and open-eyed compassion.” —Wil Haygood, author of Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America
“Deftly reveals two women’s crucial involvement in the struggle for civil rights . . . An absorbing historical page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The extraordinary life of Pauli Murray, activist, poet, teacher, priest and "firebrand" for all seasons, is beautifully detailed in Patricia Bell-Scott's book. . . . [Murray and Roosevelt’s] history together reverberates today as the fight for equality continues, making this book important reading for all of us." —Jane Alexander, award winning actress
“Bell-Scott shines a bright light on this significant relationship. A fresh look at Eleanor Roosevelt and a fascinating exploration of a cherished, mutually beneficial friendship.” —Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)
“What an exquisite book! Patricia Bell-Scott has done the painstaking research on two women who in many respects couldn’t have been more different, but in at least one respect – their unique friendship—shared a passion for truth. . . . Patricia Bell-Scott has given us a book that will inspire and give hope to all who read it.” —The Rt. Rev. Mary D. Glasspool, Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of Los Angeles.
“Biography at its best: intimate while revealing of society in its time. Patricia Bell-Scott sees all, and her view is both engrossing and encouraging.” —Nell Irvin Painter, author of Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol