Return to Headlines

Durham Board of Education Unanimously Agrees to Name New Elementary School After Pauli Murray and Betty Doretha Massenburg



The Durham Public Schools Board of Education has voted unanimously to name the newest DPS elementary school under construction Murray-Massenburg Elementary School after two trailblazers: attorney, human rights activist, and Hillside High School alumnus Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and the first African-American female principal in the Durham City School System, Betty Doretha Massenburg.


Dr. Murray, the first Black person to earn a juris doctorate from Yale Law School, was a legal scholar, author, feminist, poet, Episcopal priest, labor organizer, and multiracial Black, LBGBTQ+ community member. Their legal arguments and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution were winning strategies for public school desegregation, women’s rights in the workplace, and an extension of rights to LGBTQ+ people based on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.


Mrs. Massenburg was the first Black female principal in Durham, leading Holloway Street Elementary in 1975. Her passion and commitment to teaching Durham students inspired not only the children, but also the community. She was a proud career educator, business owner, motivational speaker, poet, author, and community servant leader. Prior to being promoted to principal, she also taught at Crest Street and Fayetteville Street elementary schools; and served as dean of girls, and assistant principal at Rogers-Herr Middle School.