The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United States, Women on 2021-11-10 01:11Z by Steven

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

University of Georgia Press
2022-05-01
224 pages
Illustrations: 11 b&w
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6192-5
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-6193-2

Virginia L. Summey, Historian, Author, and Faculty Fellow
Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

This book explores the life and contributions of groundbreaking attorney, Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston (1919-98). In 1945 Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School. In 1947 she was the first African American woman to practice law in the state of North Carolina, and in 1968 she became the first African American woman to become an elected district court judge. Despite her accomplishments, Alexander is little known to scholars outside of her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. Her life and career deserve recognition, however, not just because of her impressive lists of “firsts,” but also owing to her accomplishments during the civil rights movement in the U.S. South.

While Alexander did not actively participate in civil rights marches and demonstrations, she used her professional achievements and middle-class status to advocate for individuals who lacked a voice in the southern legal system. Virginia L. Summey argues that Alexander was integral to the civil rights movement in North Carolina as she, and women like her, worked to change discriminatory laws while opening professional doors for other minority women. Using her professional status, Alexander combatted segregation by demonstrating that Black women were worthy and capable of achieving careers alongside white men, thereby creating environments in which other African Americans could succeed. Her legal expertise and ability to reach across racial boundaries made her an important figure in Greensboro history.

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Interview with Virginia Summey, Part 1

Posted in Interviews, Law, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2021-11-04 17:35Z by Steven

Interview with Virginia Summey, Part 1

Merrittocracy: History to the People
2019-08-22

Keri Leigh Merritt, Host
Atlanta, Georgia

In the first part of my interview with Ginny Summey, an independent scholar, we talk about her forthcoming book on Elreta Melton Alexander, one of the first Black women to become a lawyer in the US, and North Carolina’s first Black woman district court judge. We also discuss the challenges and benefits of being independent scholars.

Watch Part 2 of the interview here.

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Ralston, Elreta Melton Alexander

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-10-02 02:13Z by Steven

Ralston, Elreta Melton Alexander

NCPedia
State Library of North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
2013

Virginia L. Summey, Historian, Author, and Faculty Fellow
Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Elreta Melton Alexander was a pioneering African-American attorney from Greensboro, North Carolina. Born in Smithfield, North Carolina, she was the daughter of a Baptist minister and a teacher, and grew up comfortably as a part of the black middle class. Coming of age during the Jim Crow period of the South, she was raised by her educated, middle-class parents to be a leader in the community. The descendant of two white grandparents, her bi-racialism formed her early awareness of colorism within the African-American community…

Read the entire article here.

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