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Hartford’s First Black Female Mayor Dies

Her Death Was Reported One Year Later

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Former Hartford Mayor Carrie Saxon-Perry , who was the city’s first black female mayor, died last November. She was 87.

Her death was reported last week by relatives including Richard Howard, one year after she died from a heart attack at a Waterbury Hospital on Nov. 22, 2018.

Carrie Saxon Perry

Saxon Perry was the first African-American woman elected to lead a major city in the Northeast. She was the mayor of Hartford from 1987-93. She succeeded the first black mayor in New England, Thirman Milner but was defeated by former Mayor Mike Peters.

In her 1993 concession speech to Peters, Perry was unapologetic.

“The cornerstones of my administration were equity and justice, a redistribution of resources,” Ms. Perry said in her concession speech. “We have absolutely nothing for which we should be ashamed.”

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.

Carrie Saxon Perry on

Born in Hartford on Aug. 30, 1931, Perry was raised in the city and educated in Hartford Public Schools. She left Hartford to attend Howard University.

She returned to Hartford to work as an activist, mainly for anti-poverty and housing organizations and the state welfare department. She then became a state representative in 1980. As state representative in the northwest section of Hartford, she served on posts as assistant majority leader, chair of the bonding subcommittee, and a committee member for education, finance and housing.

Indeed, 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.

She also ran for president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of Greater Hartford but was beaten by Mohammed Ansari.

The NAACP is expected to hold a memorial service to honor Saxon Perry.

“Her legacy has been one of progressive, transparent and people-oriented leadership city of Hartford,” said John Brittain, a lead attorney on the Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation case and a former neighbor of Saxon Perry.

Perry had a son, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

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