We are joined today by author Anita Hackley-Lambert, who has recently published the book “F.H.M. Murray – First Biography of a Forgotten Pioneer for Civil Justice.” Anita, thank you for being here.
Your new book was written to fulfill a promise made to commemorate the life of this great man, F.H.M. Murray. What is your connection with him, and can you tell us a bit about his remarkable life?
My book is about Freeman Henry Morris Murray, my maternal great grandfather. He was the only grandfather I ever met. Grandpa Murray was a remarkable and respected man. Everyone looked up to him and listened to his instructions. He was the leader of all our families. He was the glue that kept us together. His life’s accomplishments and contributions in the service of others goes beyond the norm. As a courageous civil rights activist, he became the first African American to contribute to American history in many areas. Grandpa Murray had more professional careers than anyone I have ever known or read about. For example, he was a teacher, lecturer, art historian, founded two newspapers, editor and publisher, advocate for civil justice, co-founder of the Niagara Movement, co-editor of the Horizon magazine, co-founder of the NAACP, entrepreneur and owner of numerous successful businesses, real estate investor, founder and engineer of post Civil War Underground Railroad in Virginia; and author.
Thanks to my book, F.H.M. Murray is beginning to get the recognition he has earned.
How did you conduct your research for this book?
In 1980, my mother had me promise to write her grandfather’s story because she had promised her mother and Grandpa Murray she would not let his story go untold. The research for the book was extensive. I needed to validate numerous family stories about him. I began by interviewing family members to validate family history that seemed like fairy tales. Soon I began to realize that my Grandpa Murray was everything they claimed and more. My excitement turned to distress when I could not find much written about his fascinating legacy. It was inconceivable. How could anyone who has done so much for so many go unrecognized?
Digging through massive archives and traveling around the country, plus several virtual trips to Scotland , took ten years to complete. I learned to look under the “stones and rocks” that most people overlooked and found treasures of information. Following the research, it took another twelve months to sort and compile the voluminous data. It took another year to write the final draft, get it edited and published.
It was an exhaustive journey. Looking back, it was a trip without regrets. Through F.H.M. Murray, I re-connected to myself and realized why I differed from most of my family. I was more like him than anyone.
We’ll continue our conversation with Anita tomorrow. In the meantime, you can visit her website here.
Celebrating Black History Month (coming up in February)