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Carrie Saxon Perry
*Carrie Saxon Perry was born on this date in 1931. She was a Black politician.
Carrie Saxon was born in Hartford, CT, to David Saxon and Mabel Lee. Her grandmother primarily raised her after her father left the family when she was only six months old. She graduated from Howard University with a degree in economics and attended Howard University School of Law for two years before leaving to marry James Perry, Jr. She had a son, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
After leaving law school, she worked with several community organizations and help establish boards for organizations such as Planned Parenthood. She also worked for the state welfare agency. Her first run for state representative ended in defeat in 1976. She was elected in 1980 and served until she was elected mayor. She was selected as an assistant majority leader, chair of the bonding subcommittee, and a committee member for education, finance, and housing. She became known for donning unique hats, owning about two dozen. She said she started the habit because she didn't have time to care for her hair.
In 1987, Mayor Thirman L. Milner, the city’s first Black mayor, announced that he would not seek re-election to city hall. Perry entered the race and won the endorsement of the local Democratic Party. In the general election, she defeated Republican Philip Steele with 58 percent of the vote and became a larger American city's first Black woman mayor. She was credited for helping reduce racial tension in the city; notably, she visited Black neighborhoods after the Rodney King verdict, which was credited with preventing rioting in Hartford as had happened in other large cities.
She championed LGBT rights in Hartford during her time in office, introducing legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in Hartford schools five years before such legislation was adopted in Connecticut. She also focused on reducing burgeoning gang activity and drug trafficking, which was on the rise then. After three terms as mayor, she was defeated by first-time Democratic challenger Michael Peters, a city firefighter. Carrie Saxon Perry died on November 22, 2018, at 87. However, her death remained unreported until November 2019.