Monday, July 25, 2011


            If there is one person, apart from my own family, that I simply love and adore without question, it has to be Mrs. Margaret Rose Murray, who has been a stalwart of our community for virtually half a century. Ms. Murray is still going strong with her Vital Link is Crosslink schools, community volunteerism, and her weekly community affairs radio program, “ Traces of Faces and Places” heard every Saturday morning from 9-a.m. until 11 a.m. on WSHA-88.9 FM.

            That’s why on Saturday, August 6th, the community will come together to honor Ms. Murray, and her invaluable half century of work in this community, during her 80th Birthday Gala and Community Appreciation Banquet, The Grand Ballroom of the Raleigh Convention & Civic Center, 6 p.m. in Downtown Raleigh. Proceeds go to help Ms. Murray’s nonprofit culinary arts program at the Marrkens Development Center. For more information, contact Bruce Lightner at 919-833-1676.

             Meanwhile, here's the CashWorks HD Productions video honoring Mrs. Murray, and the front page Carolinian story about her work. Enjoy!

By Cash Michaels

            Editor’s note - On Saturday, August 6th, the community will come together to honor Mrs. Margaret Rose Murray, and her invaluable half century of work in this community, during her 80th Birthday Gala and Community Appreciation Banquet, The Grand Ballroom of the Raleigh Convention & Civic Center, 6 p.m. in Downtown Raleigh. Renowned jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal will provide the evening’s entertainment, and proceeds go to help Ms. Murray’s nonprofit culinary school. For more information, contact Bruce Lightner at 919-833-1676.

For the Triangle community, it’s a chance to celebrate the dedicated life and work, not to mention the 80th birthday of one of it’s most beloved business and civic leaders, Mrs. Margaret Rose Murray - an 80th birthday gala at the Raleigh Convention Center this Saturday.
            “I love her. She’s a great woman,” said singer Eve Cornelious.
            “Mrs. Murray and family are outstanding citizens and neighbors,” added Marvin Cobb on Facebook.
            But to the woman who is being honored for more than five decades of selfless service to the community and state, the gala is also the opportunity to fully establish her non-profit Marrkens Development Center, located at Mrs. Murray’s 1214 East Lenoir Street facility.
            The center, according to its website, will provide, ‘… a holistic approach to providing academics, business and cultural enrichment to students and their families.”
Its first focus will be a culinary arts program that trains students in proper and healthy food selection, and preparation. Rhonda Muhammad, a former public school educator and Mrs. Murray’s daughter, will oversee the program.
Saturday’s birthday gala is doubling as a fundraiser to purchase the necessary equipment for the culinary arts venture.
“It’s an outgrowth of our fifty years of work in striving to fulfill the needs of those who are underserved and overlooked,” Ms. Murray told The Carolinian recently, indicating that Marrkens will target teens and adults, ages 17 and up, needing advancement. “Teaching and training that they so desperately need…. [so] they can be much more productive in society.”
It is an educational venture that few have any doubts Ms. Murray can accomplish.        
She is already revered for operating The Vital Link is Crosslink Private Schools in both Southeast and Southwest Raleigh. Founded in 1964, they are early, elementary and middle grade education facilities where black children are taught not only their ABC’s and 1,2, 3’s, but also about important figures in black history, to give young students pride, and help develop healthy self-esteem. So successful have the Vital Link schools been since they were opened over forty years ago, that former students have grown up to marry, and then later send their children there to get the same education.
Those who have known the Baltimore native throughout the years, can testify to Mrs. Murray deep commitment not only to education, but human rights and youth development.
Margaret Rose Murray studied education at Morgan State College in the 1950’s, and earned an associate degree from Knox Business Institute in 1955. In later years, Mrs. Murray would earn degrees and certification in early childhood education, in addition to a Master’s Degree in African-American history from Virginia Theological University.
Marrkens Development Center, named in part in honor of her late husband and lifelong partner, Imam Kenneth Murray-Muhammad who died in May 2005 at age 78, is yet another extension of the dream Mrs. Murray and her husband had together to serve since they arrived in North Carolina from Baltimore, Maryland in the late 1950’s.

“He was a quiet leader, but a powerful leader,” Mrs. Murray recalls, adding that the magic of their over half-century together was that they never insulted each other’s intelligence, or took one another for granted.
Murray-Muhammad always lovingly called his wife, “Ma.”
The couple married as teenagers, though their families initially disapproved. In a 2005 interview with the News and Observer, Mrs. Murray said after 57 years, “I don’t think it was a mistake.”
“Brother Kenneth,” as he was known then, was the first to bring the teachings of the Nation of Islam (NOI) to North Carolina in 1957, with the intent of opening schools and mosques in the African-American community.  All he had was $20.00 in his pocket, but Murray-Muhammad was a brilliant man who knew how to work with his hands, and make a lot out of nothing.
“Boy that was a venture,” Mrs. Murray, who joined her husband a year later, recalls. “It was really a venture.”
The Murrays came up in the NOI in the 1950s and sixties along with Minister Louis Farrakhan, Min. Wallace D. Muhammad, and later, a young brash boxing heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali.

Bro. Kenneth was an accomplished businessman, jazz musician, and talented artist who took time to paint pictures in his shed near his home. As a minister of the Islamic faith, Imam Murray-Muhammad was also the first Muslim to voluntarily counsel prison inmates in the state.
In later years, the couple would go one to produce the popular community affairs radio program, “Traces of Faces and Places,” which began in 1980 on the now defunct WLLE-AM, switching in 1998 to 88.9 WSHA-FM, where it currently broadcasts every Saturday morning from 9-11 a.m. The Murrays also established the Business Building Society to help black businesses grow in the community, and the Green Light Pages, a directory of black businesses for the community.
Mrs. Murray has also devoted over 30 years to volunteering to mentor young women incarcerated at the NC Correctional Institution for Women. Known to them as “Sister Deen,” Mrs. Murray has counseled hundreds of women there, many of whom served their sentences, and left prison to lead more productive lives.
And in the midst of it all, the couple raised three children - Rhonda, Kenneth Jr. and Isaiah.
In September 2009, Mrs. Murray was proudly inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame for her many contributions to the community. She has worked for many causes, including the O. A. Dupree Scholarship Fund, the Garner Road YMCA, and “Save Our Shaw” University campaign. Mrs. Murray has been the recipient of numerous community service awards, including UNCF Fundraising Award, and the Raleigh Women’s Center Rosa Parks Award.
If Mrs. Murray has a distinctive trademark, besides her joyous laugh and bright smile, it is the sign-off to her popular radio program every week.
“There is an art to living,” she tells her audience, “and the foremost part, is giving.”


1 comment:

  1. We lovingly call's her "Sister Dean" at NCCIW and RCCW. We are the ladies who resided in the prison camps of North Carolina. Sister Dean aka Ms. Rose Marie Murray has served these camps since the seventies. Bringing hope to women who fought to hold on to their dignity. Ms. Murray came without judgement but came with a love that was so peaceful and inviting. Captivating you with her wisdom, charm and smile, I can remember my first encounter with her. She came to RCCW to bring the production of "HerStory" a Black History production. She came to enlighten us on the struggle: bringing history books, authentic African dress, attitude and pride. She coached and directed us to perform with dignity, giving an other wise lowly existence as we did our time...meaning and excitement. I who had read about Rosa Parks became Rosa Parks and the hateful Bus Driver. Shouting "Let Me Have Those Seats" we were able to recreate the start of the civil rights movement in the United States in the day room to the compound. However, because Sister Dean brought the show to the prison camp it started a movement in me to live free. To few are given the credit they are due while they yet live. This event will be a night of honor and praise of a Lady of Virtue who touched many lives. She is a woman who listens, loves and encourages. I would love to bring together women whose lives she has touched, while they were yet captives. The opportunity to give honor in the free world to her by women she has visited, some more than a decade behind bars. Let me know if I can be of help in bringing this moment of time together. Theresa Godfrey 919-524-6165