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During this year’s Black History Month, NFC pays tribute to the critical roles that African Americans have played in building and shaping a more prosperous diverse, and inclusive America. More specifically, in line with our status as a100% women-owned law firm, we celebrate the stories of Black female lawyers who cracked the glass ceiling and changed the American legal landscape. This tribute emphasizes the legacy of diversity and inclusion, highlights moments in African American history, and recognizes the ongoing impact of African American courage, even as it continues to be met with adversity.

Despite our current difficulties, the past teaches us that strength, creativity, resilience, and faith has allowed the African American community to prosper through slavery, Jim Crow, and modern-day challenges. As eloquently put by James Baldwin, “The past is what makes the present coherent.”


CHARLOTTE E. RAY (1850-1911)

– First African-American female lawyer in the United States
– First female admitted to the District of Columbia Bar
– First female admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia

JANE BOLIN (1908-2007)

– First African-American woman to graduate from Yale Law School
– First African-American woman to join the New York City Bar Association
– First African-American woman to join the New York City Law Department
– First African-American woman to serve as a judge in the United States (40-year term)


– First African-American woman appointed to the federal judiciary
– NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s first female attorney
– First African-American woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court
– First African-American woman to sit in the New York State Senate

BARBARA C. JORDAN (1936-1996)

– First African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate
– First Southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives
– First African-American woman to deliver a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention


Here is another source to learn more about these great Women and others like them:


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