Mabel Emily Watson Raimey, daughter of Nellie Cora Watson Raimey and Anthony Van Leer Raimey, great-granddaughter of Sully Watson and Susanna Custelo Watson, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mabel was the last of three generations of descendants of Sully and Susanna Watson, one of Milwaukee's first African American families. Mabel died at the age of 90.
She graduated from West Division High School, Milwaukee Public Schools, at the age of 14 and obtained her B.A. in English in 1918 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was the first African American woman to graduate from that university.
She obtained a teaching job with Milwaukee Public Schools but it lasted no more than three days whern the administration dismissed her finding out that she was African American.
Mabel then became a legal secretary and enrolled in night school at Marquette University. Mabel was the first African American woman to graduate from law school in Wisconsin and the first African American woman admitted to the bar. She was admitted to the Wisconsin State Bar in 1927.
She was an original member of the Milwaukee Urban League Board and served on the Board for 25 years. She was a founder of the Northside YWCA in Milwaukee and also a charter member of the Epsilon Kappa Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The Milwaukee Chapter of the National Association of Black Women Attorneys is named in her honor.
There is a historical marker on the Marquette University campus which recognizes Mabel W. Raimey and her accomplishments. The marker is located in front of Marquette University Law School, Sensenbrenner Hall on North 11th Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her name (Wanda) and birth year (1898) are incorrect on that marker.
She was a charter member of the Epsilon Kappa Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Her sorority sisters honored her legacy by installing a granite marker on her unmarked grave in the Fall of 2021. Mabel's burial location can be found in section 45.
1. State Bar of Wisconsin, Pioneers in the Law The First 150 Women, October 28, 1998.
2. Anderson, Greta. More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Wisconsin Women, "Mabel Watson Raimey, In Defense of Dignity," The Globe Pequot Press, 2004.
3. Weaver Williams, Phoebe. A Black Woman's Voice: The Story of Mabel Raimey, "Shero", Marquette Law Review, Volume 74, Issue 3 Spring-Summer 1991 Article 2.
4. When Perseverance is the Only Option
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