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Judge Perry B. Jackson

Judge Perry B. Jackson


As World War II was winding down in Europe and the South Pacific, history of another kind was being made in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1945, Perry B. Jackson was the first African-American to be elected an Ohio Judge.


Born in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1896, Perry Jackson graduated from Zanesville High School and worked his way through Western Reserve University, graduating magna cum laude. Jackson then earned his law degree from the Western Reserve University School of Law in 1922.


As Jackson set up practice in Cleveland, he also worked from 1923-27 as an editor for the city’s black newspaper, the Cleveland Call. He left that position when the Cleveland Call merged with the Cleveland Post to become the Call and Post.


In 1928, Jackson was elected to the Ohio General Assembly as a Republican. Jackson was the first African-American to win a county-wide election in Cuyahoga County. While a member of Ohio’s General Assembly, Jackson was responsible for the adoption of permanent voter registration forms eliminating reference to color or race. He also was responsible for legislation pinning down the function of notaries public.


Judge Jackson also served on Cleveland City Council and was later appointed assistant police prosecutor, an office he held from July 1934 to August 1941, eventually becoming chief prosecutor for the City of Cleveland. From August of 1941 to April 1942, Jackson served as secretary to the director of public utilities for Cleveland.


Jackson officially earned the title of Judge when he was appointed to the bench of the Cleveland Municipal Court in 1942 to take the place of David Moylan. In 1945, Judge Jackson won the first of three elections to the Cleveland Municipal Court, a six-year term.


 In 1960, Judge Jackson won election to the domestic relations division of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, and subsequently was elected to terms in the Common Pleas general division.


Judge Jackson involved in the local NAACP and Urban League of Greater Cleveland.Judge Jackson was also very active in his community, serving in many organizations across Northeast Ohio, including the Cleveland Area Church Federation, Goodwill Industries, and the Boy Scouts of America.


A scholarship in his name continues to assist Zanesville High School graduates with their college expenses. He was elected to the Zanesville City Schools Hall of Fame in 2010.


Judge Jackson passed away in March 1986 at the age of 90.