Skip to main content


Judge Richard C. Erwin was born in 1923 in McDowell County, N.C., and raised in a farming family. He attended Johnson C. Smith University for undergraduate and served in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps during World War II. He completed his legal education at Howard University School of Law and then worked in general private practice until 1974 when he joined the N.C. General Assembly. He worked, particularly, on issues related to education and corrections. In 1977, Governor Jim Hunt appointed him to the N.C. Court of Appeals where he served until he was appointed to the newly created U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina by President Jimmy Carter. Judge Erwin was the first African American federal judge in the state’s history.

Link to Audio / Transcript: