US black lawyer rejected for bar in 1800s honored

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A lawyer rejected from practicing law in Pennsylvania in the 1800s because he was black has been posthumously admitted to the state’s bar.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A lawyer rejected from practicing law in Pennsylvania in the 1800s because he was black has been posthumously admitted to the state’s bar.

George Vashon was the first black to graduate from Oberlin College in Ohio, the first black lawyer in New York state and the first black professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

His family was in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to attend a ceremony before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Chief Justice Ronald Castille signed and presented a Certificate of Admission on behalf of the court to the family.

Vashon grew up in Pennsylvania and studied law in Pittsburgh. A Pittsburgh lawyer read about Vashon’s life and decided with the family to petition the court to posthumously admit Vashon to the bar.

The court agreed in a decision announced in May.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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