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.
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.
|Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court
1999 - 2001
I. Beverly Lake, Jr.