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African American lawyer

Fred Gray: Civil Rights Attorney & Activist

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

Fred Gray (1930 – ) was described by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as “the brilliant young negro who later became the chief counsel for the protest movement” (King, 41).  He provided legal counsel to Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Improvement Association, and other civil rights organizations. Born in Montgomery, AL, Gray became a preacher when as a teenager. He was the youngest of 5 children.  Gray received a bachelors degree from Alabama State College For Negroes in 1951; and an LLB from Case Western Reserve University in 1954. He was unable to attend law school in Alabama due to segregation. Returning to Montgomery after graduation, he began a private law practice, while also working as a minister at Holt Street Church of Christ.   

Continue reading “Fred Gray: Civil Rights Attorney & Activist”

Mahala Ashley Dickerson: Legal Trailblazer And Life Long Friend Of Rosa Parks

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Mahala Dickerson 3
Mahala Ashley Dickerson


Mahala Ashley Dickerson (1912—2007) made history, becoming the first African American female attorney to be admitted to the Alaska and Alabama bar associations. Advocacy for the poor, women, and minorities was a hallmark of her legal career. Dickerson was born in Montgomery County, outside of Montgomery, Alabama. She had two sisters, Erna and Harriet. Dickerson attended Miss White’s School For Girls, which was also known as the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. It was a private, K-8 school for African American girls. The school was started in 1886 by two white Christian educators, Alice White and H. Margaret Beard. White and Beard desired to provide an excellent education for African American girls as well as instill a sense of confidence a pride in the girls they educated. The school also promoted racial equality. The school’s curriculum focused on Christian morality, academic courses, and vocational education. All students were required to wear uniforms and were discouraged from wearing makeup and jewelry. Surprisingly students were encouraged to wear their hair, “natural” and not straighten it. It was here that Dickerson, would meet civil rights leader, Rosa Parks, who was also a student. The two would forge a life-long friendship. Continue reading “Mahala Ashley Dickerson: Legal Trailblazer And Life Long Friend Of Rosa Parks”

Jane Matilda Bolin: 1st Black Female Judge In The United States

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Jane Matilda Bolin

On July 22, 1939, Jane M.  Bolin became the first African American female judge in U.S. history. She was appointed by Mayor Fionello La Guardia to the Domestic Relations Court (family court) in New York City. 

Bolin was born in 1908 in Poughkeepsie, NY.  She attended Yale Law School and was the first African American woman to receive a law degree from Yale in 1931. She served on the court for 40 years until her retirement at age 70 in 1979.  Bolin was a staunch advocate for children’s rights and worked to encourage racially integrated services. 

Bolin died at the age of 98, in 2007 in Long Island, New York.

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