Charlotte Ray: Meet the first Black-American woman to become a lawyer (Photo)
- Charlotte E. Ray made history as the first African-American woman to become a lawyer in the 1800s
- Trailblazer Ray became the first woman to practice law before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia after graduating from Howard University Law School
- Charlotte E. Ray was born on January 13, 1850
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Born on January 13, 1850, to parents who believed in education, Charlotte E. Ray received the needed support when she was enrolled in one of the few grade schools available to African-Americans at the time.
Her parents, Charlotte Augusta Burroughs and Reverend Charles Bennett Ray, ensured that all her six siblings including her two sisters, Henrietta Cordelia and Florence received college education.
According to Wikipedia, Charlotte attended a school, Institution for the Education of Colored Youth in Washington, D.C., graduated in 1869 and then joined Howard University's teacher preparatory programme.
Subsequently, she applied to the university and was accepted into Howard's law school, graduated in 1872 and became a member of the District of Columbia bar that same year, becoming the first Black female lawyer in American history.
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While Ray focused primarily on commercial law, she did represent Martha Gadley in 1875.
Gadley was seeking a divorce from her abusive husband, but her petition was initially denied. Ray argued the case in front of the District of Columbia Supreme Court and won a victory for her client.
Sadly, the Martha Gadley case would prove to be the highlight of Ray's legal career.
Most people at the time were wary of hiring a female African-American lawyer. Ray had trouble obtaining clients and was forced to close her practice.
Ray then moved back to New York City, where she was born and she became a teacher.
Before her death in 1911 at age 60, Charlotte E. Ray, chalked many feats as the first Black-American female lawyer in the United States.
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After graduating from Howard University School of Law in 1872, she was the first female admitted to the District of Columbia Bar, and the first woman admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia.
While the legal industry still remains relatively hostile to African-Americans even to this day, the accomplishments of Charlotte E. Ray are so impressive.
As a trailblazer of many achievements including her admission, Charlotte E. Ray, was used as a precedent by women in other states who sought admission to the bar.
Charlotte E. Ray died on January 4, 1911.
In other stories, YEN.com.gh previously reported that Kweku Apreku Agyepong, a student of the University of Ghana has clinched a win in the public speaking category of the 2020 World Universities Debating Championship in Thailand.
The level 300 student pursuing a Bachelor of Law degree, emerged winner of the championship after successfully defending the category at the tournament after Jeremiah Sekyi thrashed other contenders to be crowned winner in 2019.
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