Cheri Beasley (1966- )

Cheri Beasley of the North Carolina Supreme Court
Photograph by staff of G. K. Butterfield, public domain

Listen while you learn!

Hear a soundtrack specially chosen to enhance your learning about Cheri Beasley (1966- )

Let it play in the background as you study and immerse yourself in this topic!

Cheri Beasley is the first African American woman to serve as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. She has served as Vice-President of the North Carolina Bar Association Board of Governors. 

Born in 1966 in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and Denver, Colorado, Beasley is the daughter of Dr. Lou M. Beasley, who became the Dean of the School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University. Cheri Beasley participated in debate and student government while in high school. Beasley attended Rutgers University and obtained her J.D. degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in Judicial Studies from Duke University School of Law.

After law school, Beasley worked from 1994 to 1999 as an assistant public defender in Cumberland County, North Carolina’s 12th Judicial District. Beasley then began her judicial career in 1998 as a District Court Judge in Cumberland County, where she served for ten years before successfully seeking election to the Court of Appeals in 2009. Beasley became the first African American woman elected to a statewide office in North Carolina without first being appointed by a governor.

Beasley joined the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2012 and began serving as the Court’s Chief Justice in 2019. Beasley is the second African American woman to serve as an Associate Justice on the Court and the first to serve as Chief Justice. She established the Chief Justice’s Commission on Fairness and Equity and introduced electronic filing systems, making court services available remotely. Beasley also expanded access to specialty treatment and family courts and launched North Carolina’s Faith and Justice Alliance, bringing together legal and religious leaders to address the legal needs of low-income residents.

In January 2021, Beasley joined McGuireWoods law firm in Raleigh, North Carolina as a partner. In 2022, Beasley was nominated for the Democratic senate seat opened by retiring U.S. Senator Richard Burr; however, her campaign was unsuccessful. 

Cheri Beasley has lectured at North Carolina law schools and taught Advanced Trial Advocacy for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. She has received several awards for her leadership and public service, including the Woman of Justice Public Official Award from North Carolina Lawyers Weekly and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Justice by the Alliance of North Carolina Black Elected Officials and Advocates. She is an inductee of the Rutgers University African American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame. She is a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense.