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Peter Wallenstein

lawyer, was born Lavinia Marian Fleming in Warwick County, Virginia, the daughter of Archer R. Fleming, a blacksmith and former slave, and Florence M. Carter. She grew up in Newport News, Virginia, with her parents and her brothers.

In the early 1910s she worked in Newport News as a stenographer for a black banker, notary, and real estate agent, E. C. Brown, president of the Crown Savings Bank. In 1910 she married Abram James Poe, a waiter; they had two children. For a time around 1920Marian Poe worked in the office of Joseph Thomas Newsome, a black attorney. The experience convinced Poe to become a lawyer.

Success would not come easy. The law schools in Virginia—Washington and Lee University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Richmond—excluded black applicants. Few black men in Virginia had become lawyers, and Virginia law before 1920 ...