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Citadel News Service

For Release
April 30, 2004

Matthew James Perry, Jr.       

Pioneer Civil Rights Leader Public Servant

           A native of South Carolina, Judge Matthew J. Perry, Jr., served four years in the United States Army during World War II. He completed his formal education at South Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1948 and a law degree in 1951.

           As a young attorney, Judge Perry earned a name for himself in civil rights law, winning cases that promoted the racial desegregation of beaches, parks, restaurants, and public schools in South Carolina. His relentless pursuit of justice led to the release of 7,000 people arrested for sit-in protests. In 1963, he won his most famous case - one that allowed the first African American to enroll Clemson University, effectively ending racial segregation in South Carolina colleges.

           In 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed Judge Perry to a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. In 1979, he became the first African American judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina when President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the position.

           A nationally recognized pioneer of the civil rights movement, Judge Perry has received many honors for his work, including the prestigious Order of the Palmetto, South Carolinian of the Year, and the William R. Ming Advocacy Award by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

           In recognition of his contributions to civil rights and his work as a public servant to the State of South Carolina and to the nation, The Citadel is pleased to present the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws to Judge Matthew James Perry, Jr.


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