Since there are so many facets of the history that people of African descent have made in this country, I’ve decided to continue my “Black History 365″ series from my poetry blog here on my AfrocentriqueAZ blog. I’ll be posting a new “First Black” every day this month and every Wednesday for the months after that.
In honor of WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH all March the articles will all be about first Black WOMEN… Today’s is Charlotte Ray
Charlotte E. Ray (January 13, 1850 – January 4, 1911) was the first African-American female lawyer in the United States. Ray graduated from Howard University School of Law in 1872 and became the first female admitted to the District of Columbia Bar. Ray opened her own law office and planned to practice real estate law. She did this so she can avoid “court appearances and the discrimination that women attorneys encountered.” (Hines) Stewart ran advertisements in a newspaper run by Frederick Douglass. While practicing she would often use her initials, instead of her full name, so that “her clients would not suffer because their legal counsel could be identified as a women.” Ray only practiced for a few years because the prejudice was just too much at the time. She had two great odds against her. She was an African American and she was a woman. Due to these she was unable to attract many clients and forced to close her practice. Ray eventually moved to New York, where she became a teacher in Brooklyn. She joined the National Association of Colored Women and “championed a number of social causes outside of her classroom.” Her achievements helped inspire countless women, especially African-American women, to reach for their goals even though it might seem impossible.