Charlotte E. Ray, The First African-American Woman Attorney in the U.S

2 Posted by - September 26, 2018 - Black First, BLACK WOMEN, LATEST POSTS

The first African-American woman to become a lawyer in the United States was . She was born in New York City on January 13, 1850. She grew up as one of seven children. Her father, Charles was a minister and an activist in the abolitionist movement, and helped in the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape to freedom in the North.

Ray, was always very much interested in learning. She attended the Institution for the Education of Colored Youth in Washington D.C. The school was one of the only places that offered a good education to young women. At the end of the 1860s she became a teacher at the preparatory school associated with Howard University. She then applied to the university’s law program as C.E. Ray, using only her initials. It is believe she used her initials to keep her gender a secret until acceptance because the school’s law program only allowed men at the time. However, no one really knows the truth of her intentions.


She excelled in the law program, focusing mainly on corporate law. According to Notable Black American Women, one of her classmates described her as “an apt scholar.” Ray, earned her law degree in 1872 and was admitted to the District of Columbia bar that same year, becoming the first African-American female attorney in the United States, as well as one of the first women to be admitted to the D.C. bar.

Ray opened her own law office after graduation focusing on commercial law. She attracted her clients by advertising in a newspaper operated by Frederick Douglas. There is evidence that she was active in court. She was the first woman to practice and argue in the District of Columbia Supreme Court, where she pleaded the case of Gadley vs. Gadley, filed June 3, 1875. In this case, she defended an uneducated woman petitioning for divorce from an abusive husband. The arguments were based on the grounds of “habitual drunkenness” and “cruelty of treatment, endangering the life or health of the party complaining.” Read more.



She did not practice long because it was difficult for her to get clients and keep her business going due to the prejudices during that time. She later closed her practice and moved to New York, where she worked as a teacher for the Brooklyn public schools. Ray was a member the National Association of Colored Women. She died in New York in 1911. On March 2006, The Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, MA chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International chose to honor Ray by naming their newly chartered chapter after her, in recognition of her place as the first female African-American attorney.






  • Briana Heniford January 1, 2017 - 6:27 pm Reply

    Hi – wonderful article but I think that the one picture may be of Marian Anderson – this 1st African American to be a member of the New York Met Opera and the other of Lutie Lytle an Afican American attorney admitted to the bar in Tennessee in 1897. Not sure but I think that may be the case.

  • Abbie Siverd April 2, 2019 - 8:00 am Reply

    INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS GENERATOR.Become a regional celebrity. Get unrestricted free of charge followers today and impress your friends!Consider you totally free followers for Instagram from below :

  • free minecraft May 15, 2019 - 3:35 pm Reply

    naturally like your web-site but you have to take a look at the spelling on several of
    your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome
    to inform the truth however I will definitely come again again.

  • how to get help in windows 10 May 28, 2019 - 8:51 am Reply

    Asking questions are in fact nice thing if you are not understanding anything completely, however this
    piece of writing gives pleasant understanding yet.

  • how to get help in windows 10 May 30, 2019 - 2:12 am Reply

    Link exchange is nothing else however it is only placing
    the other person’s weblog link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also do similar in support
    of you.

  • gamefly free trial May 31, 2019 - 11:20 am Reply

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement
    account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!
    By the way, how can we communicate?

  • gamefly free trial June 1, 2019 - 6:29 am Reply

    Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I
    found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old
    daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally
    off topic but I had to tell someone!

  • Lesroyaps June 4, 2019 - 4:33 am Reply

    Propecia Front Hairline viagra prescription Comprar Cialis Bueno Candian Pharmacy Online Canada Cialis generika 20mg kaufen

  • gamefly free trial June 6, 2019 - 8:37 pm Reply

    Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be at the web the easiest thing to bear in mind of.
    I say to you, I certainly get annoyed at the same time as folks think about worries that they plainly
    don’t recognize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as
    well as outlined out the entire thing without having side effect , folks can take
    a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

    • Thao November 2, 2019 - 10:41 am Reply

      This image is actually Marian Anderson.

  • gamefly free trial June 7, 2019 - 11:10 pm Reply

    Excellent blog here! Also your web site loads up fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to
    your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  • son dakika yalova haberleri June 8, 2019 - 5:39 am Reply

    Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  • Lesroyaps June 17, 2019 - 11:15 pm Reply

    Todo Sobre Viagra Where To Buy Lasix Buy Cheap Lasix Online levitra coupon free trial Buy Levitra Online With No Prescription Dapoxetina Serotonina Cialis Ultimas Noticias

  • Leave a reply