Ferguson Chambers & Sumter: James E. Ferguson II (civil rights law; criminal defense: general practice; criminal defense: white-collar; medical malpractice law – plaintiffs; personal injury litigation - plaintiffs, 1983) has been honored with The Charlotte Post Foundation’s Luminary – Lifetime Achievement award.

Ferguson is showcased as someone who championed civil rights and education equality in his award recognition, and he also helped create the first integrated law firm in North Carolina in the 1960s alongside partner Julius Chambers.

His path toward justice and law began in 1960, when as high school seniors he and other classmates worked toward changing and dismantling segregation in their hometown of Asheville. They consulted with the town’s two African-American lawyers, who promised help whenever needed. Ferguson has maintained a commitment to creating an education system that works for an entire community. Former Ferguson Chambers & Sumter member Frank Emory said of Ferguson, “I know Fergie is still passionate about [education reform]. And this is at a time when a lot of folks have grown weary of wrestling with how we ensure the children of those who aren’t that well-off also get a good public education.”

In the 1970s, Ferguson tackled high-profile civil rights cases, which included the Charlotte Three and the Wilmington 10, the latter of which lasted over 40 years and ended with Governor Beverly Perdue granting a pardon of innocence to all 10 individuals. He also traveled to South Africa with other American attorneys in the height of apartheid to assist local lawyers and help sharpen their skills. Long-time friend E.M. “Butch” Rosen recalled that “[Ferguson] believed the law and the development of good lawyers was capable of grappling with that extremely oppressive regime.”

Friends and colleagues have remarked over the years on Ferguson’s ability to handle hostile judges, police, and national administration with dignity and a manner that inspired change. He aspires toward a society that treats everyone equally, and is quoted as saying via The Charlotte Post, “We have to have the courage of our convictions. That’s how we get there.”