Mayor of Cincinnati. He was born in poverty and raised by his mother, with whom he could only communicate with through sign language. He worked several odd-jobs to pay for their well being. He moved to Cincinnati to attend Woodward High School, boarding at the Black YMCA while employed there as a desk clerk. He became his school's valedictorian before graduating in 1924, the first African-American in Cincinnati to succeed with the accomplishment. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati Law School, was accepted to the Ohio Bar in 1932, and was appointed as the assistant prosecuting attorney for Hamilton County. He later became a civil rights attorney for the NAACP. In 1942 Berry served on President Franklin Roosevelt's staff as a morale officer for the Office of War Information. He was summoned by Thurgood Marshall to defend 3 Tuskegee Airmen in a civil rights trial in 1945 winning an acquittal for two of them. The third was eventually pardoned. He then served on the committee for Civil Rights Legislation from 1947-1961 while also working with the city's Urban League. Berry was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1949 and became chairman of its finance committee in 1953. His political career continued to rise when he became the vice mayor of Cincinnati from 1955-1957 and again in 1963. He created the Community Action Commission which drew the attention of the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington D.C. President Lyndon Johnson appointed him as the head of the OEO's Community Action Programs which included Legal Services, the Job Corps, and Head Start. Berry returned to Cincinnati when he was elected as the city's mayor in 1972. He was the first African-American to hold the position and served until 1975. He continued in local politics especially with issues involving preference voting until he retired. He passed away in Loveland, Ohio at the age of 94. A city street and a park are named in his honor.
Bio by: K Guy
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