Charlotte E. Ray

First U.S. African American Lawyer

Charlotte E. Ray is known as the first African American lawyer in the United States in history! She was also the third woman of any race to earn a law degree which she got from Howard University and was the first woman to actually practice law or give legal advice to clients.

She was born into a family of 7 kids on January 13, 1850. After the Civil War she started going to school, one of the few schools that girls could attend. After she finished school she started teaching but she really wanted to be a lawyer. To get into Howard she couldn’t even use her real name because colleges were not admitting women.

After she graduated, she was one of the first women that was able to take the bar exam. After she passed she opened her own law firm.

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