Strangers to Us All
Lawyers and Poetry

Elreta Melton Alexander

North Carolina

Elreta Melton Alexander was the first African-American woman to graduate from Columbia University School of Law in 1945. She was the first black woman lawyer and the first black woman judge in North Carolina.

Alexander, was born Marh 21, 1919, and at birth was named Elreta Narcissus Melton. She graduated from Agricultural and Technical College of Greensboro, and from Columbia Law School in 1945. From 1947 to 1968 she practiced law in Greensboro, and in 1968 was elected District Judge. She retired from the bench in 1981 and resumed the practice of law in in Greensboro, and becmae a senior partner in the firm, Alston, Alexander, Pell & Pell.

[Sources: Darryl Lyman, Great African-American Women 297-298 (Middle Village, New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2005; dust jacket, Elreta Melton Alexander, When Is a Man Free? (Philadelphia: Dorrance & Company, 1967); Barbara Aronstein Black, Something to Remember, Something to Celebrate: Women at Columiba Law School, 102 Colum. L. Rev. 1451, 1456, fn. 31 (2002); Todd Johnson & Durwood Barbour, Images of Johnson County 128 (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 1997)]


Elreta Melton Alexander, When Is a Man Free? (Philadelphia: Dorrance & Company, 1967)

Research Resources

Biography Clipping Files
North Carolina Collection
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina


Interview with the Hon. Elreta N. Melton Alexander Ralston
School of Law
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

[Original typewritten transcript of the taped interview at Ralston, Speckhard and Speckhard, Greensboro, North Carolina on February 19, 1993 and March 4, 1993 is held by the Southern Historical Collection, Louise Round Wilson Library, Law School Oral History Porject, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. See also, Walter H. Bennett, Jr., The University of North Carolina Intergenerational Legal Ethics Project: Expanding the Contexts for Teaching Professional Ethics and Values, 58 Law & Contemp. Probls. 173 (1995)(references to and quotes from the interview)]