secretary and administrative assistant, civil rights worker, researcher, and writer, was born Ethel Ray in Duluth, Minnesota, the youngest of four children of a racially mixed couple, William Henry Ray, a black man from North Carolina, and Inga Nordquist, a Swedish immigrant. Inga and William met and married in Minneapolis in the 1880s, settling in segregated Duluth in 1889 in an immigrant neighborhood In a city with less than two hundred African American residents the Rays faced hostility from their white neighbors prompting resistance from the defiant and proud William Henry Ray who kept his hunting rifle loaded for self defense William fortified Ethel and her siblings against racism with stark tales of racial oppression and heroic resistance he had witnessed in Raleigh where his parents and their neighbors took up guns to protect northern teachers who had come South to educate blacks ...
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 ...