Campbell Law’s ‘First African Americans on the N.C. Bench’ exhibit on display at Saint Augustine’s University

Photo of St. Augustine University students looking at Campbell Law's First African American Judges exhibit banners

RALEIGH — Campbell Law’s traveling exhibit honoring the contributions of trailblazing African American judges in North Carolina has landed at Saint Augustine’s University.

The “First African Americans on the North Carolina Bench” features a timeline of the lives and achievement of each judge and justice from 1968-2006.  While today North Carolina has numerous African American judges, including the appointment of the first African American woman, Cheri Beasley, as Chief Justice earlier this year, there were no African Americans on the bench in the Old North State state prior the late 1960s. 

“I commissioned this exhibit two years ago as I felt it was important to highlight these trailblazing individuals,” Dean J. Rich Leonard  explained.  “I am proud of this curation and believe audiences around the state might benefit from learning about those who achieved great success against difficult odds.” 

The exhibit made up of eight banners can be seen in Saint Augustine’s Prezell R. Robinson Library through mid-December. 

“Thank you so much for allowing us to the opportunity to showcase this amazing exhibit,” wrote Tiwanna Nevels, director of the University’s Library Services, in an email. “We have already had Criminal Justice classes come by to see us and more programming is in the works.”

Saint Augustine’s University’s Early College partners, Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy (WYMLA) and Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy (WYWLA), are also benefiting from this enriching and educational exhibit, says WYMLA’s Dean of Students Michael Citrini.

“Our students have already shown a keen interest in the banners that were displayed in the SAU library this week,” he said. “They are finding the rich life stories of these North Carolina judges to be remarkable and awe-inspiring.”  

The installation was dedicated at Campbell Law in February 2019 as part of Black History Month, and the banners were on public display at the City of Raleigh Museum in the month of August.

“Our goal is to travel it around different parts of ‘The Old North State’ over the next year,” Leonard adds.

The exhibit is part of Campbell Law’s year-long 10/40 celebration – 2019 marks both the 40th anniversary of the school’s first graduating class, and the 10th anniversary of its move from Buies Creek to downtown Raleigh.


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2019, Campbell Law will celebrate 40 years of graduating legal leaders and 10 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.