Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship Honors the Hon. Vanessa D. Gilmore


On Thursday, March 3, 2022, the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship committee celebrated the impacts of women of color – past, present, and future – at Evelyn’s Park Conservancy in Bellaire, TX, with a garden party titled ‘In Her Name.’ 

A fundraiser to support the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship at Seminary of the Southwest, the event brought together people from communities across the state to highlight both the work of the scholarship’s namesake, the Rev. Pauli Murray, and the event honoree, the Honorable Vanessa D. Gilmore. Recent Pauli Murray Scholars the Rev. Ryan Hawthorne and Victoria Umani were on hand for the festive event.

“It was a beautiful night at Evelyn’s Park Conservancy, and leaders of the Houston Episcopal community came out in force to celebrate the Pauli Murray Scholarship and to honor Judge Gilmore,” said the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Dean and President. “Pauli Murray Scholars, Ryan Hawthorne and Victoria Umani made us all very proud as they testified to the impact of the Pauli Murray scholarship on their ministry. I am thrilled and grateful for the work of the committee that conceived and designed the inspiring event.”

Special thanks to the event chair, the Rev. Patrick Miller, along with Tammy Lanier, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (Houston), and the entire event planning committee for their special efforts in bringing friends together for this fundraising event.

The garden party theme was selected In observance of Judge Gilmore’s unique reputation for hosting young adults at educational tea parties held within her chambers. The recently retired judge’s tea parties date back many years during her tenure on the bench while serving as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Created in Fall 2018, the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship began when St. James’ Episcopal Church in Austin and Seminary of the Southwest began a collaboration to expand opportunities for African American students and other students of color to attend Southwest  in preparation for priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Now including several more parishes throughout the diocese of Texas, the scholarship provides financial support for living expenses for these seminary students, in addition to a full tuition grant and other assistance provided directly by the Seminary.

The scholarship’s namesake, The Rev. Pauli Murray (1910-1985), was a woman of truly remarkable energy, vision, and accomplishment. She was a pioneer and groundbreaker in many different fields of endeavor, and her life included many “firsts” – including the first African American woman ordained to the Episcopal clergy, a co-founder of the National Organization for Women, and the original author of legal arguments later used to desegregate public schools in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. The Episcopal Church celebrates her feast day on July 1.

In January, 2020, the Bishop of Texas included the scholarship as part of the robust Episcopal Diocese of Texas Racial Justice Initiative. To learn more about the 2022 Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship event, please click here.