Pauli Murray first came to the attention of Alma Lutz, a longtime women's rights advocate, NWP member, and ERA supporter, when she spoke at the National Council of Women about the social and legal challenges of implementing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (see Document 9). In this exchange of letters, Murray and Lutz, veteran activists from two generations, debated legal strategies for obtaining equal rights for women. Lutz followed Murray's legal work in White v. Crook with interest. Although Murray and Lutz disagreed about legal strategy, they had great respect for each other. These letters offer an unusually detailed discussion of feminist legal strategy over many decades.
Lutz, a former suffragist, graduated from Vassar in 1912. From the 1920s through the 1940s, she was a writer and editor for the NWP and wrote numerous articles and monographs on women's rights. Her publications in U.S. women's history included Created Equal: A Biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1940); With Love, Jane: Letters from American Women on the War Front (1945); Susan B. Anthony: Rebel, Crusader, Humanitarian (1959); Emma Willard, Pioneer Educator of American Women (1964); and Crusade for Freedom: Women of the Anti-Slavery Movement (1968). She had been a stalwart defender of the Equal Rights Amendment since the 1920s. In this letter, Lutz praised Murray's Title VII advocacy and challenged her view that the Fourteenth Amendment litigation strategy was the path to women's equality that was most likely to succeed.
22 RIVER STREET
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 02108
November 22, 1965
Dr. Pauli Murray
Yale Law School
New Haven, Connecticut
Dear Dr. Murray:
I have just read a report of your fine, spirited speech on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act given before the National Council of Women in October and I applaud it warmly. As woman to woman, I thank you.
Understanding the situation as you do, I am wondering how it is possible that you do not see the need of the Equal Rights for Women Amendment: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
I hope you will change your mind, for to me it seems so important for women's protection from discrimination to have equal legal rights for women written into the Constitution.
back to top