Douglass Alumna Appointed North Carolina's First Black Chief Justice
Cheri Beasley is making headlines for her historic appointment
Cheri Beasley, a Douglass alumna, is making history by becoming the first African-American Chief Justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court.
The announcement was made on Tuesday, Feb. 12, by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. He commended Beasley – who has served 20 years on the state bench – for her fairness and commitment to viewing all North Carolinians equally.
“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,” he said. “I appreciate Justice Beasley’s willingness to serve the people of our state in this critical role.”
Beasley, a 1988 graduate, said her time at Douglass College at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, helped shape 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,’’ Beasley said.
She said the proximity to the Eagleton Institute of Politics and the promotion and celebration of women at Douglass were pivotal in her life.
“It was the journey of serving others, the acts of service and valuing the human condition, that helped me realize my purpose,” she said.
"It is not lost on me – this historic fact – especially since this is Black History Month." – Cheri Beasley
Beasley, who was only the fifth African American and seventh woman selected to serve on the state’s highest court, says the timing of this appointment is particularly special.
"It is not lost on me – this historic fact – especially since this is Black History Month," she said, speaking during Governor Copper’s historic announcement.
In her new position, Beasley hopes to inspire young people and be a symbol of progress and growth.
"I know that the work we do is hugely important, but the other thing I think about are the little girls along the way, who ought to have a sense of promise and hope for their futures,” she said. “So I hope that in some way my service inspires young people especially, but really I hope it is a show of symbolism for where we are in North Carolina."
Beasley has served on the North Carolina Supreme Court since 2012, working most recently as an Associate Justice. She was first appointed to the state bench in 1999, and went on to serve as a District Court Judge and an Associate Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
As a student at Douglass, Beasley was very active on campus. She served as president of the Nicholas Dormitory and was a member of the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN), before graduating with degrees in economics and political science.
Beasley continues to have deep ties to Rutgers. She was inducted into the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame in 2013 and is an active member of the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College (AADC). She was inducted into the AADC’s Society of Excellence in 2015 and returned to Douglass last year as a panelist during the 2018 alumnae reunion weekend.
Beasley went on to earn a J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law after her graduation from Douglass and in 2018 received a master of laws degree from the Duke University School of Law.
Beasley’s appointment will last through the end of 2020.