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Desrosiers presents public lecture on Justice Florence Kerins Murray

Marian Desrosiers, a two-time Fulbright Scholar and adjunct professor of history and humanities at Salve Regina, will talk about the groundbreaking career of Justice Florence Kerins Murray when she presents “Patriot, Public Servant, Distinguished Jurist, and Champion of the Rights and Progress of Women” on Thursday, March 26 at 4 p.m. in the first floor of McKillop Library.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Justice Murray was one of the first women in many fields: Lt. Col. in the army, senator, trial judge, Chair of the National Judicial College, and Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice. She accomplished much in behalf of others locally as lawyer and legislator, establishing the Family Court and the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities, and nationally through her service on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), presidential commissions, and as a founding Mother of the National Association of Women Judges. Murray took on her private roles as wife and mother, as seriously as her public roles as educator and judge.

At the time of her election to Supreme Court Justice in 1979, there were barely 100 women serving on state courts, and 20 states still had no women judges on their trial courts. Only nine states had a woman on their highest court and Justice Murray was one of them.

In her presentation, Desrosiers will examine Justice Murray’s role on the Rhode Island Judiciary and explore her legacy using historical evidence, as well as interviews with judicial figures, journalists, politicians, scholars, and members of boards on which she served. Her contributions are analyzed in the framework of the post-World War II era and the movement to secure equal rights and legal protection for women.