Posted on 04/27/2013

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Lilian Lewis
Daughter of a runaway slave
Born in Boston
Was the very first African American female to work at a whit
Also worked for an African American newspaper based in Virgi
I've seen her first name spelled as Lillian also
She was also a member of the Woman's Press Club of New
Studied law

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Miss Lilian Lewis

Miss Lilian Lewis
In the Words of Miss Lewis: "The South discriminates in punishment for violations of the law as between the Caucasian and the negro. If a poor negro is suspected of a capital crime he is immediately lynched; if a white man is convicted of a capital offence he is given a slight jail sentence. That is not right; both should be justly dealt with and punished with equal severity."

"In connection with my law practice, I intend to give occasional lectures, but not in any sense for personal profit. I shall talk to my own people and make a sincere and earnest effort to improve their condition as citizens. I shall also talk to the white people and appeal to them for fair play to my race. I am not a radical in anything, nor do I intend to be. I believe in efficacy of reason to bring about the best results."

"I conceived the idea of studying law in a printing office where I worked for years as a compositor. I read the newspaper exchanges a great deal and became impressed with the knowledge of the fact that my own people especially were the victims of legal ignorance. I resolved to fathom its depths and penetrate its mysteries and intricacies in hopes of being a benefit to my people. I very soon ascertained that it was more deep and intricate than I first supposed it to be. It requires hard work to master it, if such a thing is possible at all. It is a great study and I am infatuated with it. I have devoted some time to the cultivation of elocution and oratory, and I intend to improve myself in them." University of Wisconsin Libraries

Lilian Alberta Lewis [b.1861 - ?], was the author of the 'They Say' column in the Boston Advocate from 1889 until 1895, she became one of the first African American women to be employed by a white newspaper in 1895 when she was hired as a stenographer and writer for the Boston Herald.

Lewis was born in Boston in a home that had been on the "underground railroad" and is thought to have been the daughter of a runaway slave. She studied at Bowdoin Grammar School and Boston's Girl High School in the 1870s.

In 1889 Lewis became a columnist for an African American paper, the Boston Advocate. Her column presented the views of a diverse population that had little voice in the mainstream papers. She signed her column "Bert Islew." In 1893 she became the paper's society editor. Lewis also wrote for another African American paper, the Richmond Planet in Virginia, and was a regular correspondent for a black monthly magazine, 'Our Women and Children.' It is thought that she was a reporter for the Boston Herald until 1901.

The Afro-American Press and Its Editors by I. Garland Penn (1891)