Timeline

Henry Frye
Timeline Period: 1932-2009

Aug. 1, 1932: Henry Ell Frye born in Ellerbe, NC to Walter and Pearl (Motley) Frye.
 
Spring 1949: Henry Frye is valedictorian of his Ellerbe High School graduation. 

Fall 1949: Henry Frye enrolls at North Carolina A&T College in Greensboro, where he majors in biology and also goes through advanced ROTC training.
 
October 1952: Needing a date for an upcoming dance, Henry asks a fellow student, E. Shirley Taylor, to accompany him.
 
Spring 1953: Henry Frye graduates, summa cum laude, from North Carolina A&T College. He receives commission as second lieutenant in the United States Air Force Reserve upon graduation.
 
December 1953: Henry Frye is called to active duty in the air force. Serves in San Antonio, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Suwon, South Korea; and Fukuoka, Japan. 

Summer 1956: His duty with the Air Force completed, Henry Frye returns to North Carolina.
 
August 25, 1956: Henry Frye marries Shirley Taylor. The couple settles in Greensboro.
 
August 25, 1958: On the same day he gets married, Henry Frye attempts to register to vote. Mr. Frye is given a literacy test, asking him to name the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Summa Laude graduate and Air Force officer fails the test and is denied registration. After appealing the decision, he successfully registers to vote a week later.
 
September 1956: Henry Frye enrolls at UNC Chapel Hill Law School.

1959: The Fryes welcome their first son, Henry Eric Frye.
 
Spring 1959: Henry Frye graduates from UNC Chapel Hill Law School.

Summer 1959: After winning acceptance to the North Carolina Bar, Henry Frye opens an independent law practice in Guilford County. 
 
1961: The Fryes welcome second son, Harlan Elbert Frye. 
 
1963: Henry Frye becomes an Assistant US Attorney. Appointed by President John F. Kennedy, Frye is one o the first black US Attorneys in the South.
 
November 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

May 1965: Henry Frye’s father, Walter Atlas Frye, dies.

1965-1967: Henry Frye teaches law at NC Central University while continuing his private practice.

1966: Mr. Frye runs unsuccessfully for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives. There are six-at-large seats; Frye finishes seventh.

1967: Statistics show that 51 percent of black people in the state are registered to vote, a significant increase from the 37 percent who were registered in 1960. Up from 37 percent in 1960.

April 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King is assassinated.

1968: Mr. Frye runs again for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives. This time he is more successful.
 
November 1968: Henry Frye becomes the first African American elected to the state legislature in the 20th century (becomes and the first black legislator to serve since 1899).

January 1969: Henry Frye is inaugurated, becomes the first African American to serve in the state legislature since 1899. He will serve in the House for 11 years, winning reelection five times.
 
January 1969: Representative Henry Frye sponsors a bill to remove the literacy test from the NC Constitution. 

1970: Though Mr. Frye’s bill successfully passes both houses of the State Legislature, the general public votes to keep the literacy clause.
 
1971: Henry Frye organizes Greensboro National Bank, the city's first black-owned bank. For 10 years he serves as its president (until 1981).

Mid 1970s: Mr. Frye is elected Chairman of the Guilford Delegation in the NC House.

1976-1977: Mr. Frye sponsors new landlord-tenant legislation in the House. It becomes law in 1977.

November 1980: Mr. Frye is elected to the North Carolina Senate. He takes office in 1981.

January 1981: Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Hardison names Senator Frye head of the Appropriations Committee on Education.

1983: Senator Frye is appointed as an associate justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court by Gov. Hunt in 1983.

1984: Voters elect Justice Frye to serve 8 years on NC Supreme Court. He is reelected once again in 1992.
 
1994: I. Beverly Lake Jr. and Robert Orr become the first Republicans elected to the NC Supreme Court since 1896. 
 
August 1999: Henry Frye becomes the first African American to serve as chief justice of the NC Supreme Court when Governor James B. Hunt appoints him to succeed the outgoing chief justice, Burley Mitchell.
 
Fall 1999: Associate Justice I. Beverly Lake tells Chief Justice Frye that he intends to run for the chief justice position in the 2000 election.

2000: Justices Frye and Lake campaign for the chief justice office. 

November 2000: Justice Frye loses bid for reelection to I. Beverly Lake
 
January 2001: Justice Frye joins Greensboro office of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey and Leonard, LLP

Fall 2001: Justice Frey returns to North Carolina A&T as a political science and criminal justice professor.

2002: Justice Frye is a recipient of the Frank Porter Graham Award, given annually to North Carolinians in recognition of exemplary civil rights leadership

November 2007: Justice Frye receives North Carolina Award, the highest civilian honor rewarded by the state.

July 2009: North Carolina Democrats honor Justice Frye by adding his name to the name of one of their annual dinners. Henceforth, the Sanford-Hunt Dinner will be known as the Sanford Hunt Frye Dinner.