Bestselling Author Delilah Devlin
HomeMeet Delilah
BookshelfBlogExtrasEditorial ServicesContactDelilah's Collections

Archive for May 19th, 2023

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: A Little Strategem Will Do Ya – Charlotte E. Ray, First African-American Female Lawyer (Contest)
Friday, May 19th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Sara D!

When I learned how Charlotte E. Ray engineered her success, the old Brylcreem hairdressing advertising slogan came to mind, “A Little Dab’ll Do Ya.” Her use of initials rather than her full name allowed Charlotte to attend the male-only bastion of Howard Law School, graduate in 1872, and eventually become not only the first African-American female lawyer in the United States, but the third American woman of any race to earn a law degree.

One of six children born to Charlotte Augusta Burroughs and Rev. Charles Bennett Ray, Charlotte was born in 1850 in New York City. Charlotte’s family enrolled her in one of the few schools at the time that educated girls, the Institution for the Education of Colored Youth in Washington D.C. There Charlotte took teacher training which enabled her to enroll as a teacher trainee at Howard University.

In 1869, she taught at Howard University’s Prep School, the Normal and Preparatory Department. Knowing of their law school’s bias against women, Charlotte applied to the law department as C.E. Ray. Her stratagem worked, and she was accepted. There is some dispute about whether or not this story is true, but from what I’ve read about her, I believe it. While pursuing her law studies, she continued teaching at the prep school. In 1872 she was the first woman to graduate from the law school. She specialized in commercial and corporate law. After passing the bar exams, she became the first woman admitted to the bar to practice in the District of Columbia and the first African-American woman lawyer in the US.

In 1875, Martha Gadley, an African-American woman whose petition for divorce from an abusive husband was denied, decided to appeal the decision and hired Charlotte Ray to represent her. Ray argued the case before the District of Columbia Supreme Court and won. This victory however could not overcome the discrimination against African-Americans and women Charlotte faced, and she had to close her practice by 1879. She moved back to New York and became a teacher in Brooklyn.

Besides her law practice, Charlotte participated in social justice movements of her day. She attended the National Woman Suffrage Association’s (NWSA) annual convention in New York City in 1876, and she joined the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1895.

Records show she married in 1886 and became Charlotte Ray Fraim but had no children. In 1911, she died of bronchitis in Woodside NY.

I never cease to be amazed at how the women of this era refused to be cowed by societal expectations. Charlotte Ray’s victories are now recognized and celebrated. I’m glad her little stratagem enabled her to get what she strove for.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, leave a comment on Charlotte’s life or on the life of any woman you know who let a little stratagem do her.

“Take Me To The Water” by Michal Scott from Silver Soldiers

Silver Soldiers

SILVER SOLDIERS: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY will satisfy the reader who craves stories with older alpha male heroes—those salt-and-pepper hotties with crow’s feet earned through rugged training and years of combat. Former soldiers finding their footing after their first careers, or current soldiers nearing the end of their military careers. They’re ready to find the right partner to put down roots, ones who aren’t afraid of scars and rough edges.

Excerpt from “Take Me to the Water”…

That pitiable wreck of a man wasn’t her Ambrose.

Older, grayer, leaner, of course. She was older, grayer, leaner, too.
But the figure hunched in that corner of Douglass Fellowship Hall wasn’t her Ambrose.

Her Ambrose had never hidden, never cowered, never shunned attention even though he’d never sought it.

What had prison done to him? What had all these years of absence done to him? Why had she received no answer to her letters? Why had he stayed away when he had been released?

He’s not your Ambrose anymore. That’s why.

She closed her mind to that lie. In his eyes—despite the pain and sorrow etched on his face—she saw her Ambrose.

In whom she’d always taken her delight.

How many Christmases ago had it been when their bodies had become one, when their souls had soared, when their future had been assured? How many had passed since she’d learned of his release? How many had she stood in this window and waited for him to come back to her?

To come back home.

For hadn’t that been what he and she were to one another? What he and she had claimed to be for one another the night he’d left to fight in the West?