A new episode of the North Carolina Judicial Branch podcast All Things Judicial was released today. In this episode hosted by Supreme Court of North Carolina Associate Justice Michael Morgan and entitled “Black History Made Me Who I Am,” Justice Morgan welcomed retired Court of Appeals Judge Wanda Bryant and current Court of Appeals Judge Fred Gore. They discussed their journeys from “birth to bench,” mentors who influenced their lives, and advice they would like to share with the next generation of African Americans entering the legal profession. Justice Morgan and Judge Bryant shared their personal experiences of being the first African American children integrated into their local elementary schools.
“Seeing all those faces turn around as the principal escorted me into school on that day is forever riveted in my mind,” Justice Morgan said on the podcast. “I made friends, learned a lot, learned about aspects that are not the best in people, but learned so much about what is the best in people.”
Judge Bryant, who was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2001 then served continuously from 2002-2020, shared her experiences as the first female and first African American district attorney in Bladen, Brunswick, and Columbus counties, and first African American woman senior deputy attorney general. In addition, Judge Bryant shared that she was a member of the first all African American woman Court of Appeals three judge panel in 2002.
Judge Gore and Judge Bryant, both from Brunswick County, reflected on their experiences as serving as the lone African American on the Court of Appeals, and paid tribute to mentors including the late Judge Ola Lewis who profoundly shaped their personal and professional lives. Judge Gore went on to share his deep commitment to using his judgeship as a positive influence on the youth in his community.
Today’s release is the second episode of the Judicial Branch podcast All Things Judicial. The next episode will be released on March 10 and is hosted by Mel Wright, executive director of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. It will focus on professionalism in North Carolina’s legal community through an interview with Kinston attorney Jimbo Perry. All Things Judicial follows a bi-monthly release schedule and can be found on all podcast apps and on NCcourts.gov.