Celebrating a Legacy of Excellence
A Tribute to Russell M. Perry, a Visionary and a Trailblazer

By SHANNON PERRY O’STRICKER Special Edition Myrtle Lee Frazier Rucker, my paternal grandmother, knew her eldest son, Russell Marion Perry, possessed, at an early age (particularly during his years as a high school student), a burning desire to excel and an insatiable appetite for that which interested him.

During his tenure at Douglass High School, football peaked his interest, thus, explaining his stellar performance as a consummate athlete. Moreover, while a sophomore in high school enrolled in a vocational printing course, Perry relished learning about the mechanical and operational components of a printing press. His fervent and canny interest in the area of publishing would prove to serve him well, for it afforded him an opportunity to work as a printer’s apprentice (“printer’s devil”) at the Black Dispatch under the tutelage of the late John Dungee.

Little did Perry know his experiences within the realms of the classroom, coupled with his time spent at the Black Dispatch, would, ultimately, lay the foundation from which his career in journalism would evolve.

The Black Chronicle (a paper that has long since been, not only a pillar, but a staple in the African-American community) evolved some 25 years ago in the home of Russell Marion Perry. While contemplating a name for the weekly publication that would address issues that impact greater northeast Oklahoma City constituents, Perry and his wife, Ranola Chappelle Perry (“The Rock of Gibraltar” to whom he has married for 43 years, and who has supported him lovingly and tirelessly in all his business ventures), held a roundtable discussion with their three children. The family discussed what would be a suitable name and theme for what would later prove to be a viable, dependable and noteworthy source for local and national news.

After much discussion and a consensus of all involved, the Black Chronicle (The Paper That Tells the Truth) is so appropriately named. It made its first debut on Thursday, April 12, 1979. Despite the novelty of the publication, competition and the fact that the Chronicle’s initial location encompassed a cramped, austere, 600 sq. ft. office space with second-hand furniture, subscriptions and advertisements were unwavering.

True to Perry’s steadfast and conscientious nature, Perry’s vision for the Chronicle (as a vehicle by which constituents within the community could remain abreast of current issues--local issues and issues of the world at-large) continued to yield fruitful results.

Twelve months after the Chronicle’s inception, Perry Plaza (a 12,000 sq. ft. building) was purchased, a would not only become a “landmark,” but home to the Black Chronicle and other Perry ventures. So, as I reflect upon the feats of a man, my father, whose perseverance made those feats possible (particularly when, more times than not, the odds were against him to create an exemplary, successful weekly publication), it is only unequivocally befitting that his endeavors be SALUTED!

This tribute is to a man who has led by example.

It is to my father, who would awaken early Saturday mornings to load as many soda bottles as possible into his “old faithful” vehicle and make his weekly (and, sometimes, monthly stops) at a nearby grocery store, all to earn (though, at times, not much) money for bottles we would collect over a period of weeks.

This tribute is to my father, who, simultaneously, juggled many jobs (He even waited tables!) to sustain his family, and who (I can vividly remember as a little girl) sold shoes in a downtown shoe store. This tribute is to a trailblazer, my father, who would, during the early 1980’s, spend every Thursday night wrapping and delivering papers to local stores until 6 a.m. Friday morning. My father’s foresight and fortitude have taught my siblings and me that, step-by-step, one’s visions and dreams can certainly come true, but, most importantly, despite the challenges that life will inevitably present, “If you have given it your best and stayed true to the course,” then the fruit of your labor will never be in vain.

Aside from his live, his Legacy of Excellence (particularly in the area of service) is the greatest gift Russell Marion Perry can give his children and grandchildren. For this reason, we salute him today and look forward to another 25 years of excellence!