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Anna T.S./Michal Scott: Frances Watkins Harper – A Woman’s Reach Must Exceed Her Grasp (Contest)
Wednesday, November 29th, 2023
Robert Browning wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach must exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?” Frances Watkins Harper’s list of accomplishments, author, poet, teacher, suffragist, reformer, and abolitionist, shows she believed that about women, too.

Born free in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1825, Frances’ parents died when she was three. She was raised by her aunt and minister abolitionist uncle, Henrietta and William J. Watkins who had been teaching free children to read and write since 1820. No wonder activism came naturally to Frances. By the age of twenty-one, she published Forest Leaves, her first book of poetry. She produced no less than 80 poems and four novels, all of which touched on the issues of oppression she would fight against for the rest of her life.

At age twenty-six, she taught domestic science at Union Seminary in Ohio for a year then moved to Pennsylvania where she taught as well. A Maryland law threatened enslavement to any free African American who returned to the state from the North, so she remained in Pennsylvania with Mary Still and her husband William, the father of the Underground Railroad. While with them, Frances began writing poetry for anti-slavery newspapers. In 1858, she wrote one of her most celebrated poems, “Bury Me In A Free Land.” That same year, she refused to give up her seat and move to the colored section of a Philadelphia trolley.

She spoke for eight years for anti-slavery societies in the US and Canada on the issues she wrote about: racism, women’s rights, and classism. In 1859, she wrote “The Two Offers,” the first short story ever published by an African American woman and the essay “Our Greatest Want” which compared the slavery of African Americans with that of the Hebrews of the Old Testament.

In 1860, she married Fenton Harper and had one daughter, Mary, but unfortunately, became widowed four years later.

At the 1866 National Woman’s Right’s Convention, she spoke urging support for suffrage for African American women who, being Black and female, needed the vote, too. Attendees organized the American Equal Rights Organization, but a split between the members occurred over support of the 15th Amendment, which gave African American men the vote before White women. Siding with those championing the amendment, Frances helped form the American Woman Suffrage Association instead.

She spent the rest of her days working for social reform to better the lives of African Americans. She served as the vice-president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, director of the American Association of Colored Youth, and superintendent of the African American designated sections of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women’s Christian Temperance Unions.

The home Frances lived in from 1870 until her death in 1911 is a historic site within the National Park Service.

https://www.nps.gov/places/frances-ellen-watkins-harper-house.htm.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments your impression of Frances, her accomplishments and/or what you believe women should reach for.

One Breath Away
by Michal Scott

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more. Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex. Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt from One Breath Away… 

Arousal—fondly remembered and sorely missed—sizzled between Mary Hamilton’s well-rounded thighs. Moisture coated her nether lips and threatened to stoke the sizzle into a blaze. The sensation surprised her, as did the owner of the gaze that lit the flame.

Eban Thurman stood against an opposite wall of the town’s community hall. Although the room was wide as two barns and filled with revelers, neither the distance nor the presence of the crowd lessened the power of his gaze. He studied her with a curiosity that didn’t grope with disdain, but caressed with approval.

With respect.

This kind of appreciation was never given to women as dark and as large as she. Gratitude heated her face.

Gratitude and embarrassment. Her lavender toilet water couldn’t hide the fragrance of arousal. She shuddered with shame then glanced around. Had anyone else detected the odor? All the merrymakers seemed too caught up in the rhythmic fast fiddling and foot-stomping of Safe Haven’s seventh annual Juneteenth Revel to notice her discomfort.

In 1872 Texas who took note of a black woman who ain’t been asked to wed?

Yet Eban’s perusal said not only did he take note, but he liked what he saw.

Buylink: https://amzn.to/2u5XQYY

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Hallie Quinn Brown – Inspirational Elocutionist and Hands-On Historian (Contest)
Sunday, October 29th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Sara D!
*~*~*

While sources differ on the year, Hallie Quinn Brown was born on March 10, 1850, to former slaves who migrated first to Canada then returned to the US and settled in Wilberforce Ohio. By the age of sixteen, she had graduated from the Chautauqua Lecture School and for the rest of her life gained renown as an eloquent elocutionist in Europe and America, speaking on the issues of temperance, women’s suffrage, and civil rights.

In 1873, she received a degree from Wilberforce College and lived a life dedicated to education as resistance. She taught in schools for the formerly enslaved in Mississippi and South Carolina. From 1885 to 1887, she taught at Allen University, Columbia, South Carolina, and also served as their dean. From 1892 to 1893, she served as Dean of Women at Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee Alabama. An interesting side note was provided my research by this Facebook video, https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=586553582391209where Ohio oral historian Kweku Larry Franklin Crowe shares that Hallie Brown not only taught at Tuskegee but literally helped build it “sitting on a mule and dragging logs.” (The video is only 2 minutes long!)

She returned to Ohio to teach elocution at Wilberforce from 1893 to 1903. In the late 1890s, she frequently spoke on African American issues in London.

A firm believer in community action, she founded the Colored Woman’s League in 1896, served as president of the Ohio State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs from 1905 to 1912, and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) from 1920 to 1924.

As head of the NACW, she helped spearhead African American opposition to a monument proposed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which would have depicted a Black woman caring for a white infant. The “Mammy” statue sought to foster the defeated South’s Lost Cause lie of slavery being beneficial to Blacks. Ms. Brown wrote “slave women are brutalized, the victims of white man’s caprice and lust. Often the babe torn from her arms was the child of her oppressor.” The bill proposing the monument died in the House of Representatives. Ron DeSantis and other Floridian history revisionists should take note.

Ms. Brown wrote four important works during her lifetime, the first, Bits and Odds, in 1880 and her fourth and most popular, Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction, a collaboration with over twenty other women in 1926.

She died on September 16, 1949, in Wilberforce, Ohio. I stand in awe of women like Hallie Brown who not only inspired by her own example but also shared the accomplishments of others as well. I hope in my own small way with these blogposts I’m following in her footsteps.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card share something about Hallie’s story that has inspired you.

The Spirit to Resist by Michal Scott
from Hot and Sticky: A Passionate Ink Charity Anthology

A woman may be made a fool of if she hasn’t the spirit to resist, but what does she do if, for the first time in her life, being made into a fool is exactly what she wants?

Excerpt from “The Spirit to Resist”

The fellows had terms for girls like Florence who made them hard and offered no relief.

Flirt.

Pee wee player.

Worst of all, vanilla.

Flirts and pee wee players were little girls in burgeoning bodies who tested the limits of their newly acquired womanhood. Timid and coquettish, they longed for, but feared, sexual experience.

Not vanillas.

Proudly defiant and unafraid, vanillas reveled in the effect their teasing had on their targets. The skill with which Florence taunted him proclaimed her Queen of the Vanillas. She’d be heading back to Brooklyn tomorrow. Today’s soiree was his last chance to obtain relief and release from this adept tormenter.

“Mother you’ve got to use every influence at your disposal to make sure Florence attends this Sunday’s soiree.”

His mother shook her head. “I doubt she’ll be making social rounds with all the packing she has to do. Honestly, you surprise me. I got the impression you two didn’t like each other.”

“That’s just a game we’re playing.” His mouth dried as if suddenly stuffed with cotton. He swallowed to free his tongue and spoke the unwelcome truth. “I like her a lot.”

A conspiratorial glint lit up his mother’s eyes. “Alright. We’ll make the Walters family guests of honor. That’ll insure her mother’s cooperation.”

Knowing his mother, her ploy would succeed. Florence would attend and he’d get his chance to put Florence’s teasing to the test.

Smirk away, Florence Walters. Your days as Queen of the Vanillas are over.

*~*~*

Buylinks: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C5RSJS5M
https://books2read.com/u/3nNDnx

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Sarah Boone – An Improver Not Just an Innovator (Contest)
Monday, September 25th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Mary Preston!
*~*~*

Sarah Marshall was born into slavery in 1832. She married James Boone in New Bern, North Carolina, when she was fifteen. Sources are unclear how they obtained their freedom, but they were able to relocate to New Haven, Connecticut before the start of the Civil War. There, they raised eight children. She worked as a dressmaker. He laid brick until his death in the 1870s.

In her work, she saw the need for an ironing board that would aid in her care and maintenance of women’s dresses. Before the invention of the ironing board, women simply ironed clothes either on a board laid across the backs of two chairs or a table. At the age of 60, dressmaker Sarah Boone’s invention was created “to produce a cheap, simple, convenient and highly effective device, particularly adapted to be used in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies’ garments.”

While she did not create the ironing board, her device improved upon it by adding a padded surface and a smaller rounded end. It was also collapsible, so you can see how her improvements led to the ironing board in use today. The wording of the patent indicates that the invention had the potential to be adapted for men’s clothing. She received her patent in 1892 making her the second African-American woman to receive a patent.

She lived in New Haven not far from Yale University for the rest of her life and attended the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church. She died in 1904 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. This PBS station did a very nice piece on her. You can view it here: https://www.pbs.org/video/engineering-behind-ironing-board-dqh4ly/.

A slave at fifteen. A patent holder at sixty. When you hear people harping on age being detrimental instead of an asset, tell them about Sarah Marshall Boone.

For a $10 chance at an Amazon gift card share your thoughts on Sarah’s life or ageism.

Better To Marry Than to Burn

Freed Man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black township of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.

Excerpt:

“Our children?” She swiveled in her seat. “You made no mention of wanting children, just marital relations as necessary. I understood that to mean intercourse.”

“I wrote I wanted to leave a legacy.”

“A legacy. Not a dynasty.”

“Legacy. Dynasty. Is there really so sharp a distinction?”

“To my mind there is. I understood you meant to affect future generations—endow schools, found churches, create civic associations. I didn’t realize that meant children. I agreed to having sex, not having children.”

 “Of course I want children.” His brows grew heavy as he frowned. “Doesn’t having sex lead to having children?”

“Not with the right precautions.”

His frown deepened. “Precautions?”

“There are many ways to prevent your seed from taking root, Mr. King.”

“I want children, Mrs. King.”

Her lips twisted and her brow furrowed, but she kept her silence.

“All right,” she said. “You can have children with any woman you like. I won’t stop you. I free you from any claim to fidelity.”

“Legacy—or dynasty if you will—means legitimacy. No bastard will carry my name, not when I have a wife to bear me children.”

“I see.”

Her tone signaled she didn’t.

Buy link: https://amzn.to/2KTaGPH
Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/106e6b05cdfe/michal-scotts-newsletter
Website: https://www.michalscott.webs.com

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Susie King Taylor – A Teenager Who Became A First Among Firsts (Contest)
Thursday, August 24th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Colleen C!
*~*~*

Born enslaved in 1848, Susan Baker and her uncle escaped from slavery in 1862. They ended up with hundreds of other former slaves on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. From the age of seven, Susie had been educated in secret schools and thus could teach others. She even used her literacy to write passes for blacks making it safe for them to travel safely after curfew. Because of these skills, she was able to open a school teaching children by day and adults at night on St. Simons. This made her the first African American woman to open and teach at a free school in Georgia. All at the age of fourteen.

She married Sergeant Edward King, a black officer in the 33rd US Colored Infantry and helped nurse and equip the soldiers while also continuing to teach the illiterate to read and write. In Beaumont SC, she met and worked with Clara Barton at a hospital for African-American soldiers. She did this work in the army for four years without pay.

In 1866, she and her husband’s service in the military ended. They moved to Savannah where she opened a school for African American children. However, a new public school provided too much competition, so Susie’s school had to close. That same year her husband died. Now widowed and supporting a small child, she worked as a domestic for a wealthy white family who took her to Boston in 1870. She eventually moved to Boston in 1874, remarried and lived there with her second husband, Russell Taylor, until she died in 1912.

Susie dedicated much of her time to the Woman’s Relief Corps, an organization she helped form for female Civil War veterans. She served as its president in 1893. She also fought against a group called the Union Daughters of the Confederacy who were trying to rid the mention of slavery from school curriculums. Unfortunately, the whitewashing of history around the issue of slavery is neither new nor relegated to Florida.

She self-published Reminiscences in 1902, making her the first and only African American woman to print a Civil War memoir about her wartime experience. She ends the memoir on this positive note, “In 1861 the Southern papers were full of advertisements for ‘slaves,’ but now, despite all the hindrances and ‘race problems,’ my people are striving to attain the full standard of all other races born free in the sight of God, and in a number of instances have succeeded. Justice we ask—to be citizens of these United States, where so many of our people have shed their blood with their white comrades, that the stars and stripes should never be polluted.”

It never ceases to amaze me how resilient and resourceful women like Susie Baker King Taylor were. Neither age, race nor gender proves to be a barrier for long. I continue to be inspired and encouraged by their examples. For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, comment below on Susie’s life.

“The Spirit to Resist” by Michal Scott from Hot & Sticky: A Passionate Ink Charity Anthology

A woman may be made a fool of if she hasn’t the spirit to resist, but what does she do if, for the first time in her life, being made into a fool is exactly what she wants?

Excerpt from “The Spirit to Resist”…

The festivities ended. Everyone helped with collecting bowls, spoons and ice cream tubs. Harold reached for the tub of chocolate Florence handed him. Emboldened by hope, he held onto her hand before she reached for another vat.

“Maybe an old-fashioned bareback trot on Harold Too might be more to your liking than a ride in William’s car?”

“You had all summer to approach me. Now you declare yourself at this late hour.” Florence fisted her hands on her shapely hips. “I don’t throw people over.”

“Of course not.” Harold’s hope died. He spread his hands in apology. “I beg your pardon.”

William stepped forward. Florence closed her eyes and sighed. The sound set hope fluttering in Harold’s spirit once more.

“Actually, it’s more than a ride I’m offering. Once alone, I’d hoped to show you something different, something pretty special.” He angled his head so his words slid into her ear. “Something just for you.”

She glared at him, but interest radiated in its heat. At least she wasn’t insulted.

William offered his arm. He grinned like a cat licking cream from its paws. “Shall we?”

Florence took it and headed with him for the door.

“See you at Thanksgiving, Harold,” she called over her shoulder then suddenly looked back. “Next time don’t be so late out of the gate.”

Harold groaned. Thanksgiving? He’d have to wait three whole months before he had another chance to challenge that irresistible vanilla?

Jesus. How would he last until then?

Buylink: https://books2read.com/u/3nNDnx

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Edmonia Lewis – An Artistic Pioneer (Contest)
Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Nancy Brashear!
*~*~*

“I was practically driven to Rome in order to obtain the opportunities for art culture, and to find a social atmosphere where I was not constantly reminded of my color. The land of liberty had no room for a colored sculptor.”

Thus, Edmonia Lewis was quoted in the December 29, 1878, New York Times‘ article: “Seeking Equality Abroad. Why Miss Edmonia Lewis, the Colored Sculptor Returns To Rome – Her Early Life and Struggles.” While saddened by the familiar story of trials and tribulations faced by African Americans in this era, I am nevertheless heartened that Edmonia Lewis refused to let adversity keep her down.

Born on July 4, 1844 of African-American and Native American heritage, Edmonia was orphaned by the age of nine, but had two aunts and her half-brother Samuel to care for her. Samuel struck it rich in the California Gold Rush and was able to finance her education. She attended New York Central College from 1856-1858 then Oberlin College in 1859 where she was one of 30 students of color. A white mob, believing she had poisoned two students, beat her and left her for dead. Exonerated of those charges, she was later accused of stealing paint brushes and a picture frame. Even though cleared again, the college refused to let her re-enroll for her last term in 1863, thwarting her chances to obtain her degree. In 2022, Oberlin awarded her a degree.

She relocated to Boston in 1864, where she received the patronage of abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison. Sculptor Edward Brackett became a mentor and helped her to set up her own studio. She sculpted and sold images of famous abolitionists on medallions made of clay and plaster. Her first real success came from the bust she created of Colonel Robert Shaw, the white officer of the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry Civil War unit.

She traveled to Europe and settled in Rome by 1866. While there, she created one of her most famous works, The Death of Cleopatra. It was shipped back to the US and displayed at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876. In 1877 while in Rome, Ulysses S. Grant commissioned his portrait from her. Edmonia remained in Rome where she could work without always having to combat the hostility of being Black and Catholic.

Life in Europe was no paradise, however. Sexism against female sculptors, regardless of race, was rampant. Nevertheless, Edmonia established herself and created pieces that included, but were not limited to, African-American and Native American themes. Her neoclassical style of sculpting fell out of favor in the 1880s, and Edmonia fell into obscurity. She moved to London in 1901 and died there on September 17, 1907. You can learn more about her and see her work on this website: https://edmonialewis.org/

Unfortunately attacks these days on opportunities to enable modern day Edmonia Lewises to emerge make her 1878 NYT quote still relevant. For a chance at a $10 Amazon Gift card, leave a comment on Edmonia’s life or on someone who you know persevered despite discrimination.

“The Spirit to Resist” by Michal Scott from Hot & Sticky: A Passionate Ink Charity Anthology

A woman may be made a fool of if she hasn’t the spirit to resist, but what does she do if, for the first time in her life, being made into a fool is exactly what she wants?

Excerpt from “The Spirit to Resist”

Florence lifted her face into the cool of the night and gazed at the stars. The breeze’s gentleness put her in mind once more of Harold’s sweet entreaty.

It’s just that I’d hoped to show you something different, something pretty special. Just for you.

The remembered words caused her nipples to pucker.

From here she could see the Edwards pavilion. It loomed surprisingly stately, given its frivolous purpose. She remembered her silliness with Harold over that tub of strawberry ice cream. A smile twisted her lips. What different, pretty special something had Harold planned just for her?

In her mind’s eye, she recalled control in that woman’s eyes back at Mrs. Wanzer’s. From memory, she reheard the sounds of pleading in the man’s grunting and groaning. The scene reaffirmed what she always believed. For sex to be satisfying, there had to be an exchange of power. Until she found a partner who believed this, too, she’d be a vanilla until her dying day.

She gazed toward the Edwards pavilion again. A similar exchange happened between her and Harold when she teased him. He enjoyed receiving her taunts as much as she enjoyed delivering them. They shared a mutual respect whenever they spoke, whenever they caught one another’s eye, even when no teasing occurred.

He’d had something planned for her tonight. Something different. Something pretty special. Something just for her. What might that something be? Something that said Harold, like Madison Dugger, respected the power of the cunt?

Maybe it wasn’t too late to find out.

Buylink: https://books2read.com/u/3nNDnx

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Opal Lee – Grandmother of Juneteenth (Contest)
Monday, June 19th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Mary Preston!
*~*~*

What is it with the media and ageism? I will turn 67 this year and I bristle when some commentator denigrates President Biden for being 80. Gray Panthers unite! I guess the media hasn’t heard 80 is the new 60. So to those who view seniors through a negative lens I’m using this Juneteenth to celebrate 95-year old Opal Lee, the Grandmother of Juneteenth.

On June 19, 1865, enslaved African-Americans in Galveston Texas learned they had been free since the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Born October 7, 1926 in Marshall, Texas, Opal fondly remembered the games and food of her community’s Juneteenth celebrations. She also remembered a June 19th in 1939 when a white mob burned her family’s home, forcing them to relocate to Forth Worth. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953 from Wiley College. She received her Master’s degree in counseling and guidance from North Texas State University in 1963. She retired in 1977 from her work as a home/school counselor.

With forty years of community activism under her belt, Opal made it her mission to have Juneteenth celebrated as a national holiday. In 2016, she started a walking campaign comprised of walks 2.5 miles long to represent the 2.5 years it took for enslaved African-Americans in Galveston Texas to finally learn they had been freed by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation Act. She accepted invitations to walk in cities all over the country. These walks ended in 2017 in Washington D.C. where she presented her petition of over one and one half million signatures. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee from the 18th district of Texas co-sponsored a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. President Biden signed that bill in 2021, making Juneteenth, June 19th the nation’s 12th federal holiday.

Honors and tributes poured and continue to pour in for the retired schoolteacher. Hers is the second portrait of an African American to hang in the Texas state house. Her alma mater University of North Texas bestowed an honorary doctorate upon her. This year, Philadelphia declared June 5th Opal Lee Day.

But not one to rest on her laurels, Opal’s walks continue because work still needs to be done. She told an NPR interviewer that Juneteenth is not just a Texas thing or an African American thing. It’s about freedom. “As long as there’s homelessness and joblessness and things some people get that others can’t, climate change that we are responsible for, as long as we don’t address these things, we aren’t free.” She is working on establishing the National Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth. You can check out Opal’s continuing activities on her website: https://www.opalswalk2dc.com/about.

So, the next time you hear someone make an ageist remark, think of Opal Lee and all the other remarkable seniors who don’t let age stop them from changing the world. For a chance at a $10 gift card leave a comment about Opal’s story or about a senior in your life whom you admire.

“The Spirit to Resist” by Michal Scott from
Hot and Sticky: A Passionate Ink Charity Anthology

A woman may be made a fool of if she hasn’t the spirit to resist, but what does she do if, for the first time in her life, being made into a fool is exactly what she wants?

Excerpt from “The Spirit to Resist”

He scooted closer so his lips brushed her ear. “I’ve got a viewing room booked at Mrs. Wanzer’s. You have heard of Mrs. Wanzer’s?”

His breathy syllables coiled in Florence’s ear with serpent-seducing slyness. A jolt of arousal skittered across Florence’s labia.

“Of course I have.” Florence firmed her lips. Who didn’t know about Mrs. Wanzer’s and what went on there? Or at least, imagined what went on there.

William huffed on his nails and polished them against the lapel of his jacket. “Bet there’s a lot of knowledge you could glean there.”

An arousing but annoying friction roiled Florence’s sex at the possibility. No one spoke of Mrs. Wanzer’s except behind hands covering salacious whispers. What she wouldn’t give to have firsthand experience about sex rather than book knowledge.

“Are you vanilla enough to take advantage of this once in a lifetime offer?”

A wet yes pooled between her legs. She scrutinized William. Was this really a chance to gain the firsthand knowledge she wanted? Or was this serpent, like the one in the Garden of Eden, using knowledge of her desire to his own end?

William shrugged. “But you’re heading back to Brooklyn tomorrow,” he said in a tone heavy with resignation. “Having to pack will, I’m sure, curtail any time you’ve got for real schooling.”

He stood then turned to leave. She grabbed his arm and forced him to face her.

“What time can we go?”

Buylinks: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C5RSJS5M
https://books2read.com/u/3nNDnx  (ebook preorder only)

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?

Buylink: https://amzn.to/3GBExbG