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Carrie Saxon Perry is the first Black woman mayor of a major New England city, achieving the historic mark in 1987 at the age of 56. The former Howard University and community activist used the largely ceremonial role as Hartford’s mayor to address issues such as crime, racial tension, and more.

Perry was born in 1931 in Hartford, Connecticut although the exact date of her August birthday is not immediately known. She entered Howard in 1949 as a political science major, leaving two years later to care for her child. Perry remained in Washington, D.C. until 1963, the year President John. F. Kennedy was assassinated. Afterwards, she returned to her native Hartford and worked as a community activist.

Perry helped the city’s poor residents, providing social assistance to young single mothers, as she once was. That dedication to community carried over into her political life. In 1980, she made a successful bid to become a state representative after losing an election four years prior.

Seven years later, Perry became Hartford’s mayor, using her platform to crack down on growing street crime and the drug trade. She also kept the peace in the city during the nationwide tension surrounding the Rodney King trials. Perry held her post for three terms before losing it to first-time challenger and firefighter, Michael Peters.

Known for her black, wide-brimmed hats, Perry retained a sense of glamour and grace while in office and remained an active lecturer and speaker after her mayoral tenure. She is currently the special assistant to Manchester, New Hampshire mayor, Ted Gastas.

Perry has one son and four grandchildren, according to the most recent news.

PHOTO: ‘Charlie Rose’ show Screenshot

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