Black History Month Highlight: Charlotte E. Ray
In the final installment of the Black History Month Highlight series, I am highlighting Charlotte E. Ray. Just like our other two highlights, Thurgood Marshall and Macon B. Allen, Ms. Ray was a heavy hitter in the legal field. Some of her accomplishments include, but are not limited to:
- Applied to law school under the name “C.E. Ray” to disguise her gender. This was necessary because being a woman would negatively affect how her application was viewed.
- Recognized as the first African-American female attorney in the United States after being admitted to practice law in 1872.
- First woman to be granted permission to argue cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Opened her own law practice specializing in business and corporate law.
- After being forced to shut down her law practice due to the many prejudices of the time, Ms. Ray championed for women’s suffrage and civil rights for women of color.
While this series is sadly coming to an end, my hope is that it highlights that there are many African-Americans who had an impact on shaping American history, aside from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is only when we look at the accomplishments of Dr. King, along with others, that we realize that the positive impact from diversity did not just start after the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, but has existed since the formative stages of our country. Although I have only highlighted three individuals, there are plenty of others that you can learn about if you have the thirst for knowledge and desire to learn more about the history that is not always taught in classrooms.