Campbell Law’s ‘First African Americans on the N.C. Bench’ exhibit on display at Wake County Justice Center

Photo of First African Americans on N.C. Bench banners at Wake County Courthouse

The exhibit features a timeline of the lives and achievements of each judge and justice from 1968-2006

RALEIGH — Campbell Law School’s traveling exhibit honoring the contributions of pioneering African American judges in North Carolina is once again on display at the Wake County Justice Center.

The exhibit includes Judge Elreta Melton Alexander-Ralston, Judge Sammie Chess, Jr., Judge Clifton E. Johnson, Judge Richard C. Erwin, former Chief Justice Henry Frye, Judge Cy A. Grant Sr., Judge Allyson K. Duncan and former Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson.

The exhibit will remain on display through the end of February 2024 in observance of African American History Month. 

The “First African Americans on the North Carolina Bench” features a timeline of the lives and achievements of each judge and justice from 1968-2006. North Carolina has numerous African American judges and justices today, including North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Anita Earls, who is only the seventh African American judge in the state’s history to serve on its highest court.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to once again showcase this outstanding exhibit in the Wake County Courthouse,” said Campbell Law alumnus and Wake County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway ’86. “We are honored to help educate the public on the important contributions made to our profession by the pioneers featured in the display.”  

The exhibit is made up of eight banners and can be viewed in the atrium area of the Wake County Justice Center.

The exhibit’s permanent installation was dedicated at Campbell Law in February 2019 as part of Black History Month. The traveling banners have since been on display at the City of Raleigh Museum, St. Augustine’s University, Fayetteville State University, the Mecklenburg County Courthouse and at Campbell University’s Main Campus. The exhibit was commissioned as part of Campbell Law School’s year-long 10/40 celebration in 2019 that marked the 10th anniversary of its historic move from Buies Creek to downtown Raleigh and the 40th anniversary of the school’s first graduating class.


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 4,800 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2024, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and 15 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.