On Dec. 5, a portrait mural of the late activist, lawyer and priest Pauli Murray will be unveiled at the Orange County Sportsplex in Hillsborough.
The event will feature speeches by County Manager Bonnie Hammersley, a representative from the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice in Durham and Orange County Board of County Commissioners Chair Jamezetta Bedford.
Murray was a Black, queer, gender non-conforming activist who worked throughout the 20th century. The Pauli Murray Center uses he/him, she/her and they/them pronouns interchangeably to refer to Murray.
“My Name is Pauli Murray,” an autobiographical documentary, will be shown at Tuesday's event, said Shameka Fairbanks, the chief equity and human rights officer for Orange County.
Scott Nurkin is a local artist who owns The Mural Shop and has created works across the state that commemorate Black musicians. He completed the mural of Murray.
He said the mural began as a portrait of Murray depicted in their former office — but, in collaboration with Fairbanks, Nurkin decided to transform the work into a dedication to Murray's relation to North Carolina, featuring a silhouette of the state.
The work also features a scale to represent their legal work, finger nail polish to represent feminism and quotes from their publications to represent Murray's role as a writer, Nurkin said.
“I’m really hopeful that this mural will help folks to understand Pauli's rich contributions to American history,” Angela Thorpe, the executive director of the Pauli Murray Center, said. “I'm also really grateful that Pauli is being represented through art — they were a creative in their own right, and really believed in the power of art to change and shift communities.”
The Pauli Murray Center is located in Durham at Murray’s childhood home, which was built by their grandparents in 1898. Murray's grandmother was enslaved in Orange County and attended church at the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill.