Charlotte E Ray is the First Black Woman Lawyer in the United States

Are you a lover of history? Well, the month of January is FULL of interesting facts and tidbits. We will be sharing a few of them with all of you this month. First up, did you know that Charlotte E Ray is the first black woman lawyer in the United States?

Ray’s contributions to practicing Law not only helped black women progress, but all women in general. The great Charlotte comes from a time before women got even a small foothold in the workplace. In fact, women could not even vote yet in the U.S.

Therefore, Ray being able to become a lawyer during this era is quite remarkable. The history books reveal that Charlotte E Ray lays claim to numerous “firsts.” Just to quickly highlight them. Charlotte is,

  • The first black woman lawyer in the U.S. (1872) graduating from from Howard University School of Law
  • First black female admitted to the District of Columbia
  • Also she is the first woman to practice and argue in the District of Columbia Supreme Court

Till this day, women continue to follow in the steps of Charlotte, Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood and Arabella Mansfield. Women pioneers in the field of Law. In fact, there is the Charlotte E. Ray Award bestowing honor on women lawyers. This prestigious award is presented to a woman lawyer for her exceptional achievements and extraordinary contributions in the legal profession.

Charlotte E Ray is the First Black Woman Lawyer in the United States

Furthermore, Ray possesses ties to other visionaries and important leaders of the 19th century. For instance, for a time Charlotte ran her own practice. To try and secure more clients to represent, she advertises in a newspaper produced by none other than the legendary, Fredrick Douglass.

Unfortunately, while we wish that there is more of a joyful, and triumphant ending for Charlotte E Ray, with her time practicing as a lawyer. There just isn’t one. Even with all her achievements and accomplishments; she was still held back in her field of choice thanks to discrimination.

Due to much prejudice, Ray was unable to get enough clients in order to keep her practice running and open. She closes its doors just a few years after they first open. Nevertheless, Charlotte’s practice closing does not take away from any of her efforts and accolades.

Ray is a remarkable woman, and stunned figure who refused to allow anyone or anything prevent her from treading unfamiliar territory. We can learn a lot from her; regardless of our differing backgrounds. The lesson? You are worthy, talented and capable of doing the impossible.

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