Remembering Meck Co. first Black female prosecutor and superior judge, Shirley Fulton

A former Mecklenburg County Judge, Shirley Fulton lost her battle with cancer last week at age 71.
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 10:25 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - This past Sunday’s rainy weather didn’t dampen the deep admiration for Judge Shirley Fulton.

She passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.

Memories of her life which was called a life well lived dominated the discussion at the chapel on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University.

Previous Coverage: Mecklenburg County’s first Black female prosecutor, community advocate Shirley Fulton dies

Rickye McCoy Mitchell is a former Mecklenburg County judge who was mentored by Fulton along the way.

“Judge Fulton has been a pioneer in so many ways, but the beautiful thing about her pioneering spirit is she’s always been a person who cares about people, “she said.

Her career in public service started in the old Mecklenburg County Court House where she was appointed as Charlotte’s first African American female prosecutor.

Over time she would serve as a district court judge and be elected as North Carolina’s first female African American judge.

Her portrait had a place in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.

Fulton shared a long-running friendship with Charlotte businesswoman Sis Kaplan. Kaplan reflected on the relationship saying “I was fortunate to have her as a good friend.”

During Fulton’s celebration of life, it was revealed that friendship blossomed into legal partnerships.

She joined forces with Charlotte attorney Noel Tin after leaving the bench, her name remains on the shingle outside of his firm’s Dilworth office.

“She did so many things to improve the community that had nothing to do with her title or her prestige,” Tin said.

She was the driving force behind restoring the Wadsworth House.

Known as a community gathering spot, Shirley Fulton took pride in the estate on Summit Avenue in Wesley Heights.

It’s the same kind of pride she often demonstrated with African artifacts which were prominently featured in Sunday’s homegoing celebration.

According to civil rights attorney James Ferguson, Fulton was known as a groundbreaking pioneer.

“She was the first of everything she did,” Ferguson told WBTV.” She demonstrated the possibility both on the bench and off the bench.

Shirley Fulton was 71 years old. She is survived by a son.