Wake County Justice Center hosts Campbell Law’s traveling exhibit of first African American judges

Photo of people looking at traveling exhibit of banners featuring first NC African American judges on display at Wake County Justice Center

RALEIGH — In honor of Black History Month, Campbell Law’s traveling exhibit honoring the contributions of pioneering African American judges in North Carolina is now on display at the Wake County Justice Center in Raleigh.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to showcase this outstanding exhibit in the Wake County Courthouse,” said Wake County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway ’86  in a press release. “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, which is just a snapshot of the permanent tribute located on the first floor of the law school, features  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. 

Sponsored by North State Bank and the Campbell Law Alumni Association, the traveling exhibit went on display on Tuesday, Jan. 22, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and will remain on display at the Justice Center through the end of February 2020. 

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 Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who is the first African American woman to serve as chief justice and is featured in the permanent exhibit.

The exhibit is made up of eight banners and can be viewed in the atrium area of the Wake County Justice Center. 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 August and most recently St. Augustine’s University. Campbell Law’s goal is to feature the traveling display in various locations throughout North Carolina. The exhibit was commissioned as part of Campbell Law’s year-long 10/40 celebration in 2019 which marked the 10th anniversary of its 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 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2019, Campbell Law celebrated 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.