By Keisha Bell
In addition to the stress of everyday life–the bills that must be paid, the demands of parenting and relationships and aging parents, the influx of negative messaging that perpetuate division and her personal struggles–she must deal with deeply woven, adverse beliefs about the body in which she was born.
She is a female. She is a minority. It is what it is. What a combination to carry, especially when working in a predominantly male-dominated industry.
Meet Charlotte E. Ray. She lived from January 13, 1850, until January 4, 1911. She made history by becoming the first African-American female lawyer in the United States.
More specifically, Ray was the first woman to graduate from the Howard University School of Law; the first female admitted to the District of Columbia Bar, as well as, the first woman admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia.
Ray’s bar admission was used as a precedent by women in other states who also sought attorney status.
While growing up, there was never a question as to whether Ray would attend college because of her father’s strong belief in the importance of obtaining an education. At that time, few places would allow African-American women to receive a proper education. This obstacle did not stop her.
Hence, in 1869, Ray graduated from the Institution for the Education of Colored Youth in Washington, D.C. Then in 1872, she graduated from Howard University School of Law in 1872.
Reportedly, Ray was considered to be one of the best lawyers in the country on corporation law. This was quite an accomplishment for a woman attorney, especially when adding that she was African American.