F.H.M. Murray, Alexandria’s Obscure Civil Rights Champion

When discussing civil and human rights leaders of the previous, names corresponding to Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Fact, Ida B. Wells and Mary McLeod Bethune usually come up in dialog and are the topic of packages, documentaries and books.

The cover of "F.H.M. Murray: First Biography of a Forgotten Pioneer for Civil Justice"
The quilt of “F.H.M. Murray: First Biography of a Forgotten Pioneer for Civil Justice”

Nevertheless, author Anita Hackley-Lambert not too long ago penned a guide about her great-grandfather Freeman Henry Morris Murray, who performed his civil rights actions, entrepreneurial pursuits, and creative tasks largely out of Alexandria, Virginia. 

Murray was a colleague of a number of the nation’s main African American leaders within the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries however hasn’t obtained the notoriety that they’ve had. Hackley-Lambert’s guide, “F.H.M. Murray: First Biography of a Forgotten Pioneer For Civil Justice,” talks in regards to the life and contributions of this Alexandrian.

“This guide is the primary biography ever written about Murray, who crossed the colour line throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to play an necessary position within the development of what he known as his ‘beloved African American race,’” writes Hackley-Lambert, 76, within the guide’s Preface. “This epic saga is a historic unveiling of an orphan toddler’s wrestle and journey by excessive racism and rejection that started with a household race struggle, which began earlier than he was born and lasted by his lifetime.”

Lambert stated her mom, Florence Luckett Hackley, unofficially sanctioned her to put in writing a guide about her famous ancestor.

Highlights of Murrays Life

Murray was born September 22, 1859, in Cleveland, Ohio to a white man of Scottish descent, John M. Murray, and a Black lady, Martha Bentley. When his father died, his mom moved the household to Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Murray attended Mount Nice Academy to coach to be an educator, graduating in 1875. 

Bentley’s father, Daniel, ran a whitewashing and portray enterprise and secretly ran an operation generally known as the “Underground Railroad” earlier than and after slavery to assist Blacks escape from oppression to raised alternatives.

“One of many explanation why I feel my nice grandfather didn’t attain prominence needed to do with the Underground Railroad,” Hackley-Lambert stated. “If it had been identified that Freeman Murray was a part of the Underground Railroad, he and his household would have been hanged.”

In 1883, Murray married Laura Hamilton with the union producing 5 kids. The following yr, Murray handed the civil service examination in Ohio and moved to the Washington, D.C. space, the place he was appointed to a place within the Pension Division of the Struggle Division. The appointment made him the primary Black particular person from Ohio to be appointed to a federal place. He moved to Alexandria and began an actual property enterprise and continued the Underground Railroad actions. He ultimately began a enterprise, Murray Brothers Printers and Publishing Firm.

Murray received concerned within the Niagara Motion in 1906, which was based to enhance the political and financial positions of Black individuals. The Niagara Motion, with scholar W.E.B. DuBois as a main chief, was the forerunner of the NAACP. 

Along with DuBois, Murray interacted with Douglass, turning into the caretaker of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Cemetery within the District, and different notables corresponding to editors Ida B. Wells and William Monroe Trotter. 

Murray additionally edited a social and political publication, Horizon. 

He turned a foe of famed Tuskegee Institute principal Booker T. Washington, a lot in order that Hackley-Lambert writes “the outspoken and daring Murray…turned targets of Washington and his supporters for not less than the following six years.”

“The anti-Niagarites [Washington supporters] had been severe about silencing and stopping these two males [the other was Lafayette M. Hershaw] particularly,” she stated. “They even took their combat to the highest, to the President of the USA.”

Hackley-Lambert explains within the guide {that a} Washington supporter, Charles W. Anderson, requested President Theodore Roosevelt to fireplace Murray and Hershaw, however was rebuffed.

Murray edited and managed newspapers such because the Dwelling Information and the Washington Tribune. He turned the Washington correspondent for the Boston Guardian in addition to different Black newspapers and journals.

In 1916, he wrote a guide, “Emancipation and the Freed American in Sculpture,” which discusses Black Individuals and their position in sculpture. Hackley-Lambert stated the guide advocated Black emancipation and liberation in sculpture as an alternative of specializing in heroes and nice battles.

Murray knew 5 languages and performed a task within the growth of U Avenue within the District as a enterprise and leisure mecca. He died on February 20, 1950.

Remembering Murrary and His Legacy

Hackley-Lambert stated Murray was spiritually gifted and proficient and self-motivated.

She stated no markers exist in Alexandria honoring Murray, however plans are within the works for a road to be named in his honor and each of his home websites to be famous by historic markers.