Charlye Ola Farris was selected to serve as county judge in Wichita County, Texas making her the first black person to serve as a judge in the south since reconstruction.
Farris was born in Wichita Falls, TX. Both her parents were educators, her father was the first African-American school superintendent in Texas (Woodland Consolidated School District in Limestone County) and her mother served as an elementary schoolteacher for 49 years.
Farris graduated as valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High School at age 15. She later attended Prairie View A&M College in 1948 and received a degree from there in Political Science. After a year of teaching, Charlye pursued her interest in becoming an attorney.
Farris received her law degree from Howard University in Washington, D. C. in 1953. During her final year, Farris’ class worked on the landmark racial desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
After completing her studies, Farris opened up a private practice in Wichita Falls, also making her the first African American male or female to have a private law practice.
By 1954, Farris was selected to serve as county judge pro-tem, making her the first black person to serve as a judge in the south since Reconstruction.
Farris received numerous awards including the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement and serving on the Board of Regents of Midwestern State University.