NEWPORT, R.I. – As part of its Women’s History Month celebration, Redwood Library will host a Life of the Mind Salon public lecture by Marian Mathison Desrosiers, a two-time Fulbright Scholar and adjunct professor of history and humanities at Salve Regina, who will talk about the groundbreaking career of Justice Florence Kerins Murray.
“Justice Florence Kerins Murray: Perspectives on the Legacy of a Pioneer in the Rhode Island Courts” will be presented on Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m. The cost for non-members is $5, while Redwood Library members are admitted for free. Wine and cheese will be served at 5:30 p.m. and the salon lecture will follow.
In 1979 at the age of 62, Murray (1916-2004) became the first female Supreme Court Justice in Rhode Island history. She was no stranger to the judiciary, however, having spent the previous 20 years as an Associate Judge and Presiding Judge on Superior Court, the Rhode Island trial court.
At the time of her election, 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.