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He was One of America’s first Deaf Lawyers

He was born on this date, October 25, in 1880. Blinded by Scarlet fever at the age of nine, Roger Demosthenes O’Kelly began losing his hearing a few years later. The North Carolina African-American slowly regained his vision in one eye. While he wanted to attend Gallaudet University, his application was denied in 1898 based on the color of his skin. So instead, he earned a degree from North Carolina’s Shaw University, graduating in 1908. O’Kelly was licensed to practice law in North Carolina, becoming one of America’s first deaf lawyers. He later studied law at Yale University, becoming the second deaf person to graduate from the school in 1912. He returned to his home state where establised a lucrative law practice “serving white as well as black clients, particularly in real estate, domestic relations, and corporate issues” according to  Joe A. Mobley’s book Raleigh: A Brief History.  O’Kelly died at the age of 82 on July 11, 1962.