Chief Justice Henry Frye

In 1959, Justice Henry Frye graduated with honors from UNC School of Law, making him the first Black law student to complete all three years of study and graduate.

In 1963, he became one of the first Black federal prosecutors in the South when he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of North Carolina.

Justice Frye was elected to the NC General Assembly in 1968 where he served six terms, representing Guilford County. He was North Carolina’s only Black legislator, and the first elected in the 20th century. While in office, Justice Frye fought hard to pass legislation contributing to racial equality in North Carolina. The first bill he introduced was a constitutional amendment abolishing the literacy test requirement for registering to vote.

Gov. James B. Hunt appointed Justice Frye to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1983. He was the court’s first Black justice, where he served with distinction for 16 years, elected to his first full-term position in 1984, then re-elected in 1992. In 1999, Frye earned the distinction of being named chief justice by Gov. Hunt and served until retiring in 2001.

Shirley Frye

Throughout her life, Shirley Frye has been a vocal advocate for social justice and civil rights in Greensboro and beyond.

Frye earned her bachelor’s degree in education and English at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and went on to teach at Washington Elementary School. She earned her master’s degree in special education and psychology to become a special education teacher serving the Greensboro community. Later, she returned to N.C. A&T as assistant vice chancellor for development and university relations and as special assistant to the chancellor before her career led her to serve as special assistant to the president and director of planned giving at neighboring Bennett College. She also worked for the state Department of Public Instruction and retired as vice president of community relations at WFMY News 2, where she won an Emmy.

Throughout her career, Frye has been a devoted community volunteer and advocate, and has dedicated her time to promoting equality and justice. She led the integration of Greensboro’s two segregated YWCAs in the 1970s, serving as the new organization’s first president. Her work was used as a model for YWCAs across the country. In May 2016, the YWCA Greensboro honored her by naming its newly renovated facility the Shirley T. Frye YWCA Greensboro. In addition, she served on the National YWCA board from 1973-1993.

In 1985, Frye earned North Carolina’s highest civilian award, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. This award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.

In 2017, she earned The (Greensboro) News & Record Woman of the Year Award, and in 2022 she received the Triad Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business Special Achievement Award.

Additionally, Frye chaired the steering committee for Action Greensboro, served on the Greensboro City Schools Board of Education and in leadership positions at United Way of Greater Greensboro, N.C. A&T Real Estate Foundation Board, High Point University Board of Trustees, and others. Frye’s impact on the community and service to North Carolina is profound and serves as an inspiration to others working toward lasting change.