Saturday, February 5, 2011
Constitutional Law as Anchor: Lutie Lytle
"I like constitutional law because the anchor of my race is grounded on the constitution. It is the certificate of our liberty and our equality before the law. Our citizenship is based on it, and hence I love it."
So said Lutie Lytle (pictured). She was born in 1875 and was among the first African Americans to earn a law degree when she graduated from Central Tennessee Law School in 1898. She returned to Central Tennessee to teach law and newspaper accounts "claimed that she was the only woman law instructor in the world." She reportedly taught criminal procedure, evidence, and domestic relations during her brief time in academia. She later moved to New York and was active in the National Bar Association. Although information about Lytle's career and life is regrettably sparse, a solid scholarly resource is J. Clay Smith, Jr.'s, Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-1944 (1993).
The annual Black Women Faculty Workshop, hosted by University of Kentucky in 2010 and by Seattle University School of Law in 2009, is named in her honor.
(H/T Judith Scully)