Photo credits: Murphy Moss Publishing
Lula Vashti Turley Murphy (February 1884 – March 17, 1960) was an educator and community activist who co-founded Delta Sigma Theta, the historically Black sorority. Despite the fact that both of her parents and elder siblings died before she reached high school age, Lula thrived, finishing at the top of her class at Washington, D.C.’s M Street School.
She served as vice president of the Howard University Class of 1914. Along with being an active member of the Baltimore Alumnae Chapter, she served as an official of the National Association of College Women’s Baltimore Branch and was an NAACP member. She co-founded the Philomathian Club, a black women’s study organization, in 1932 with Vivian Johnson Cook.
Turley Murphy took an interest in the condition of delinquent girls and was an active member of the Maryland School for Girls and the YWCA, volunteering many hours to assist turn around the lives of troubled young Black women. Murphy was a community organizer, mentor, and institution builder who was especially well-known for her oratory.
She married Carl Murphy, an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (#APhiA) member and editor/publisher of the renowned Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. She was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Morgan State College, where her husband served. Dr. Frances Murphy Draper wrote a book on her and her husband’s love life titled, No Ordinary Hook Up: The Courtship of Vashti Turley and Carl Murphy, which was released in 2016.
Their extraordinary letters, which have never been published before, are both inspiring and instructional, as they expose the personal information of their rapid relationship. She is also the grandmother of Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s current national chaplain.