May 23, 2019 | 66° F

North Carolina Supreme Court appoints Rutgers, Douglass alumna as first Black Chief Justice


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 Cheri Beasley, who graduated from Douglass in 1988, said college helped her to explore socially, civically and academically, which later formed her career. She was president of Nicholas Hall and a member of the Public Leadership Education Network while she was a student. 


On Feb. 12, Gov. Roy Cooper (D-N.C.) announced that Cheri Beasley, a Douglass alumna, has been appointed as the first Black chief justice in the state's Supreme Court, according to Rutgers Today.

“Justice Beasley is a well-respected jurist, and I know her to be fair and deeply committed to viewing all North Carolinians equally through the eyes of the law,” Cooper said. “I appreciate Justice Beasley’s willingness to serve the people of our state in this critical role.” 

Beasley has served for 20 years on the state bench. First appointed in 1999, she later went on to work as a district court judge, then an associate judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Since 2012, she has served for the North Carolina Supreme Court. A 1988 Douglass graduate, she said that her undergraduate experience played a large role in her career. 

“The Douglass experience was a wonderful, formative one. As a young woman from Nashville, Tennessee, I had an engaging opportunity to explore socially, civically and of course academically and think about my place and role in the world,’’ she said.

Her proximity to the Eagleton Institute of Politics, as well as the support women at Douglass received, were also important to her life. While she was a student at Douglass, Beasley was very involved with the University, serving as both the president of Nicholas Hall and member of the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN). She ended up graduating with degrees in economics and political science.

“It was the journey of serving others, the acts of service and valuing the human condition, that helped me realize my purpose,” she said.  

Beasley said the timing of her appointment was especially appropriate, since she was only the fifth Black person and seventh woman chosen to serve in North Carolina's Supreme Court. 

"It is not lost on me – this historic fact – especially since this is Black History Month," she said during Cooper's announcement.

Beasley still maintains close ties with the University. In 2013, she was inducted to the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame and in 2015, she was inducted into the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College (AADC) Society of Excellence. She continues to be an active member of AADC, returning last year to speak as a panelist during that year's alumnae reunion weekend. 

After graduating from Douglass, she earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and last year received a master of laws degree from the Duke University School of Law. 

Her appointment to North Carolina's Supreme Court will last until the end of 2020. 


Catherine Nguyen

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