This Day in History: 1872-04-23

Howard University School of Law graduate Charlotte E. Ray becomes the first Black American female lawyer in the United States. She was also 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. Her admission was used as a precedent by women in other states who sought admission to the bar. Ray opened her own law office. However, she practiced law for only a few years because prejudice against African Americans and women made her business unsustainable. Ray eventually moved to New York, where she became a teacher in Brooklyn. She was involved in the women’s suffrage movement and joined the National Association of Colored Women. Learn more.