Lecture - Toni Van Pelt: Finding Pauli Murray, her legacy lives on August 24, 2021
In conjunction with our special exhibition, The Woman Who Broke Boundaries: Photographer Lee Miller, we invite you to enjoy a lecture from Toni Van Pelt about the the living legacy of Pauli Murray.
Pauli Murray (1910 - 1985) was a feminist icon ahead of her time who challenged race and gender discrimination in legal, societal, academic and religious circles. Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray was the great grand-daughter of enslaved persons, was a talented poet, thoughtful autobiographer and historian, perceptive social commentator, dedicated political organizer, compassionate attorney, inspiring professor, brilliant legal theorist and a ground-breaking Episcopal priest. Pauli Murray was one of the country’s foremost thinkers, legal theorists, civil rights/women’s rights organizers and writers. She was a cofounder of the National Organization for Women and her legacy continues to endow popular movements against discrimination and oppression not only in the U.S., but around the world.
Toni Van Pelt, a longtime feminist, and secular humanist served as the president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) from 2017-2020. She also held the positions of president of the NOW Foundation and chairwoman of the NOW Political Action Committee (PAC) and served as the principal spokeswoman for all three entities. Van Pelt oversaw NOW’s multi-issue agenda: achieving constitutional equality for women, advancing reproductive rights and justice, promoting racial justice, stopping violence against women, winning civil and human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community, and ensuring economic justice. Van Pelt has served in leadership positions at all levels of NOW. Toni cofounded the Institute for Science and Human Values (the Kurtz Institute) along with Paul Kurtz in 2010. She served as the treasurer, president and Chairwoman, retiring in 2021. Van Pelt served as vice president of the Center for Inquiry 2004-2009 which encompasses the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI, formerly the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, CSICOP) and the Council for Secular Humanism. In 2006 she established the first public policy office for the secular humanist movement in Washington DC. The Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy continues to serve as liaison to our nation’s government, to see that every available means is used to defend and promote science, reason, and secular values, working with lawmakers to effect legislative responses to attacks on science and reasonShe currently serves on the board of the Institute for Humanist Studies. Her past career as the owner of a travel agency, International Travel Associates, Inc. specializing in international travel gave her the opportunity to expand her worldview through global travel. Van Pelt is a former member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers when she worked for Northwest Orient Airlines. Currently Van Pelt volunteers at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores.