Early life and education
He was born August 1, 1932 in Richmond County, North Carolina. After graduating with honors from North Carolina A&T State University, Frye reached the rank of captain in the United States Air Force, serving in Korea and Japan. Upon returning to North Carolina, Frye was inspired to become a lawyer when he was denied the ability to register to vote by so-called "literacy" tests. He graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law.
Frye became an assistant U.S. Attorney in 1963, one of the first African-Americans to hold such a position in the South. When Frye was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly as a state representative in 1968, he was the only black North Carolina legislator, and the first elected in the 20th century. Frye helped eliminate the vestiges of Jim Crow from North Carolina law. He was re-elected several times to the state House, serving until 1980, and served one term in the state Senate from 1981 to 1982. During this time, he was also an instructor at North Carolina Central University's law school.
In 1983, Governor Jim Hunt appointed Frye to the North Carolina Supreme Court as an associate justice, the first African-American to hold that position in North Carolina history. Elected in 1984 to the court and re-elected in 1992, Jim Hunt appointed Frye to the state's highest judicial post, chief justice, in 1999 to replace the retiring Burley Mitchell. He was defeated for election to a full term in 2000 by Associate Justice I. Beverly Lake.
Frye currently practices law with Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard in Greensboro, North Carolina.
In 2007, Frye received the North Carolina Award for public service. In 2009, he became honorary co-chairman of the U.S. Senate campaign of Kenneth Lewis. He was named chairman of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership in 2013.
|Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court
1999 - 2001
I. Beverly Lake, Jr.
- Civil Rights Greensboro: Henry Elle Frye
- Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard biography
- Mitchell and Frye recognized
- Frye gets behind Lewis for Senate
- IOPL Announces Former Chief Justice Henry Frye as New Chairman of the Board of Directors
- Biographical Conversations with Henry Frye