The lady justice, a term recently deemed an oxymoron, had garnered more votes than any other candidate on the ballot statewide. It was just one indicator of a rapidly changing world.
The civil rights movement had been gathering steam in North Carolina since 1960 when four black students in Greensboro staged the nation's first lunch counter sit-in. Vietnam, a country few North Carolinians could have located on the globe not long before, was becoming a topic of discussion. Betty Friedan published her watershed book, The Feminine Mystique. Then, on November 22, 1963, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot to death as he rode in an open parade car in Dallas, Texas.1 The photograph of Lyndon Baines Johnson being sworn in as president on Air Force One, with the shellshocked Jackie Kennedy looking on in her blood-stained suit, was noteworthy for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that it was a female judge, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah T. Hughes, who administered the oath of office.2
Ironically, although the revolutionary social changes and political tides that swept over Justice Sharp like all other Americans during the 1960s and 1970s affected every aspect of her day-to-day life, there was perhaps no sturdier shelter from the storm than within the walls of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The constitutional issues of the day were mostly questions for the federal, not state, courts. With a few exceptions in which the state supreme court had to grapple with ripple effects emanating from the Great Society and the Vietnam War, Judge Sharp was largely spared the agony of wrestling with the more in fammatory aspects of national public policy from the bench. This did not mean that she did not agonize.
She was more and more alienated from the national leadership of her beloved Democratic Party. The Kennedy family's Catholicism, rumored shady dealings, and strong-arm tactics disturbed her. She shared the fear and loath-