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Mulatto Monday: William Henry Lewis

Mulatto is an archaic term for a person of mixed African and European ancestry that we frequently see in the United States Federal Census until 1930 when census enumerators either had to identify a person as Black or white.

#WilliamHenryLewis (1868-1949) was the first African American to be appointed #UnitedStatesAssistantAttorneyGeneral; the first to be admitted to the predominantly white #AmericanBarAssociation; and the first to be selected as an #AllAmerican in football.

He was born in #BerkeleyVirginia, a village of African Americas and whites wedged between #Portsmouth and #Norfolk, to formerly enslaved mulatto parents. Both were the offspring of white enslaver fathers and African American enslaved mothers. At age 15, he enrolled in the #HBCU #VirginiaNormalAndCollegiateInstitute (now #VirginiaStateUniversity).

He then attended #AmherstCollege #AmherstMassachusetts where he played football for three seasons and was elected captain of the team. After graduation in 1891, he enrolled at #HarvardLawSchool #CambridgeMassachusetts , where he played for two years and was elected as Harvard's first black team captain. From 1895-1906, he served as Harvard's football coach.

This rare #CabinetCard was taken by prominent photographers #PachBros of #NewYorkCity. The studio was one of the oldest in the city, having begun in 1867. They also operated seasonally in college towns, photographing athletes and student groups at #Harvard, #Princeton, #Yale, and #Columbia.

Courtesy of the Nanny Jack & Co Archives

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