Henry Frye

North Carolina’s First African American Chief Justice


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About the Book

Henry E. Frye came of age just as the South was beginning a transformational change. When he graduated from college in 1953, African Americans like him could only hope that the future would be different from the past. At the close of his public career in 2001, he was chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court—the head of the state’s third branch of government. Throughout their lives, Frye and his wife, Shirley, were in the vanguard of the advances that shaped the lives of African Americans. His election to the state legislature in 1968 was the beginning of steady, determined efforts to expand opportunities for African Americans in politics, business and society at large. This book traces, along with his career, the growing participation of African Americans in the civic, political and social life of North Carolina.

About the Author(s)

Howard E. Covington, Jr., is a former journalist and the author of more than two dozen books. The 2004 winner of the Ragan Award for the best non-fiction by a North Carolina writer, he lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Howard E. Covington, Jr.

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7575-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0572-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface  1
Introduction  3
1. Hen’rell  7
2. Aggie Pride  20
3. “It was going to be slow”  38
4. Law School  52
5. Henry Frye, Esquire  67
6. “If not now, when?”  86
7. The Election  102
8. Representative Henry Frye  120
9. Greensboro National Bank  143
10. Working on the Inside  169
11. The Court  193
12. In Chambers  211
13. Chief Justice  230
14. Making a Difference  251
Chapter Notes  261
Bibliography  269
Index  273

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Covington writes well. One of the book’s strengths is the insight it offers into the life of a middle-class African American family”—The North Carolina Historical Review
  • “well told”—The News & Observer
  • “Covington uses Frye’s story to reflect on a revolutionary time in the state, when Frye and his wife broke a number of color barriers by their involvement in the vanguard of political, social, and civic events and issues”—Reference & Research Book News