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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Pauli Murray (1910-1985)

Sexual abuse of women was a brutal but commonplace feature of enslavement. One especially dramatic case in Orange County involved Harriet, property of the university trustee James Strudwick Smith. Harriet gave birth to a daughter Cornelia, fathered by one of Smith's sons, Sidney. A second son, Francis, fought bitterly for possession of Harriet. He became the father of Harriet's other three children. Harriet attended Franklin Street's Chapel of the Cross, where black people sat in the balcony. Cornelia's granddaughter, Pauli Murray, was rejected for graduate work at Chapel Hill during the 1930s, but later presided over her first Holy Eucharist at the Chapel of the Cross as the first black female Episcopal priest.