Cathay Williams (1842-c.1893)
Cathay Williams was the first African-American woman to enlist in the United States Army. Williams was born into slavery and was an army cook before enlisting in 1866. Williams was sworn in under the pseudonym “William Cathay” making her the only documented U.S. soldier to serve while posing as a man.
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Annie Turnbo Malone (1869-1957)
Annie Turnbo Malone was one of the nation’s first black female millionaires. She built her fortune on hair care products that she developed when she was 20 years old and trademarked under the name “Poro.” Malone was an active philanthropist and contributed thousands of dollars to black educational programs and orphanages across the country. However, Malone’s legacy is often overshadowed by that of her protégé, Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madame C.J. Walker.
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Today we honor George Lewis Ruffin (1961- ) who became the first African-American graduate of Harvard Law School in 1869. He was admitted to the Suffolk County Bar Association later that year. To honor his legacy and support minority groups studying in the Massachusetts justice system, the George Lewis Ruffin Society was founded in 1984 at Northeastern University.
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