Extending from the 17th century to the 1960s, privileges were given to White Americans but denied to Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic and Latino Americans. Slavery, Segregation, immigration and naturalization law, and internment camps were major racially and ethically structured institutions. Despite racism being at its peak, Charlotte E. Ray became the first female African-American lawyer in the United States in 1872. Her ability to demonstrate such skills proved that African-Americans could excel in the same field and opened the doors for future Asian, African, Hispanic and Latino Americans.  

Before the library field trip, I debating whether to do Charlotte E. Ray or Wan J. Kim, the first Korean-American immigrant to serve as Assistant Attorney General. However, after discovering numerous books about Charlotte E. Ray and her successes, I decided to select her as my eminent person. 


Similarities and differences:

Lauryn Lee Charlotte E. Ray
Female Female
Korean-Canadian African-American
Passionate about law Passionate about law
Wants to enter University of Toronto Faculty of Law Graduated from Howard University School of Law
Has only one sibling Had six siblings
Hopes to become an Asian-Canadian lawyer First African-American lawyer
Didn’t have to deal with discrimination Dealt with discrimination
Wants to practice law for a long period of time Practiced law for only a few years
Wishes to excel in corporate law Excelled in corporate law

Wanting to become a lawyer myself, I understand how tough it is to enter the law industry since racism and sexism still exists. However, Charlotte E. Ray, a women who dealt with even worse discrimination than anyone up to date, successfully became a lawyer and broke the barriers regarding race and gender. In order to apply for Howard University School of Law, Charlotte used her initials, C.E. Ray, instead of using her full name, Charlotte E. Ray. Some people assume the reason behind this was to disguise her gender as the university did not accept women into the program, but her real intentions still remain unknown. Nonetheless, she gained admittance to the program. Although discrimination isn’t as bad as it was back then, women of colour are still underrepresented at law firms. The percentage of women associates at law firms is 45.2% however, in terms of women and colour, this number drops to 13.1%. People can underestimate those of colour but they can’t underestimate true potential and skill. In order to overcome the barriers of race and gender, the only possible path is excel in a specific type of law, just like Charlotte E. Ray. 

Image courtesy to Black Then

Preparing to apply for law school is not something everyone does everyday. By researching more about Charlotte E. Ray, I  want to learn more about how she faced and overcame the barriers of discrimination. Moreover, I hope this project will help me be even more passionate about becoming a lawyer.

One of my IEP goals is to enhance my public speaking skills even further. Presenting a speech in front of 20-30 people at Night of the Notables will really have a great impact to improve my speaking skills. In the long-term, there may be a day when I will be defending the accused in front of perhaps 30-40 people. When the day comes, my public speaking skills would be better than ever.