A professor at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law is digitizing original archival documents that date back to the 1940s. Professor Nichelle Perry took up the activity as a passion project but hopes it will help preserve the institution’s history.

“They need to be preserved, but they also need to be shared. We need to show our history,” she told ABC 11. “The name of the school then was the North Carolina College for Negroes. I think we forget that, but that’s where we came from.”

Her initiative comes as NCCU’s School of Law is celebrating its 85th anniversary in March.

“The whole reason why we are in existence, and this is a painful truth, is we weren’t allowed to attend UNC Chapel Hill,” she added. “There was a strict no-admissions policy for African Americans.”

In 1939, Robert Bond became the first student to enroll in the law program. He was also among the first to graduate. The program eventually expanded, and more students enrolled throughout the decades. There are currently 418 students enrolled at the law school. The School of Law is among six HBCU law schools in the country.

For some students, it is a legacy carried through generations.

“My father was a graduate of NCCU School of Law in 1989. He passed away when I was younger,” Amber Craft, a third-year law student, told the news outlet. “I was four years old. I didn’t know him. This was a good way to see what his life was like. I want to understand the community I’d be advocating for. I like being the hands and feet more so, but also being able to one day write the law.”

Some notable alumni have walked through the hallways of NCCU Law School. Honorable Judge Josephine Kerr Davis graduated from the School of Law in 2003. She now works at Durham County Courthouse. 

“I get to drive home each day and look to my left and see NCCU. It keeps me humble,” she told ABC 11. “It lets me know those years of studying were for a time as this.”

“I think one of the misconceptions is HBCU’s produce second-tier attorneys or second-tier students,” she added.