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Laura M. Calkins

dentist, was born in Clarkesville, Tennessee. To escape continuing antiblack discrimination and poverty after the Civil War, her family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, when Gray was a youngster. She attended Cincinnati's racially segregated public schools, including Gaines High School, Ohio's first public high school for black students. Opened in 1866 the school was named for the black educator John I. Gaines and was administered by his nephew, the political activist and educator Peter Humphries Clark. Gaines High School provided classical as well as vocational instruction, and teacher training was added to the curriculum in 1868. The school gained a national reputation for academic excellence, and during the mid-1880s it produced scores of qualified black teachers annually.

Gray was determined to study dentistry. She found a willing and powerful mentor in Jonathan Taft, dean of the College of Dental Surgery at the University of Michigan. Until 1875 ...