ORLANDO — Florida attorney and former Circuit Court Judge Belvin Perry Jr. was exposed to the law at an early age.
His dad, the late Belvin Perry Sr., served as one of Orlando’s first two African-American police officers when he was hired on Jan. 3, 1951, according to Perry Sr.'s obituary in the Orlando Sentinel.
“I went with him when he testified, and I became interested in the law,” Perry Jr. told the Florida Record. “At the time when I was growing up, there were two professions — doctor or lawyer. When I took analytical chemistry in the 12th grade, it pushed me toward the law.”
Perry has made history himself, some of which he shared during his keynote speech at the Florida A&M University Black History Month convocation on Feb. 10, according to a report by the Tallahassee Democrat. During his speech, he called on students to make contributions, focus on education, and understand history.
“I explained the reasons why we need black history, why you need to learn from others’ mistakes, and to remind them of the struggles and sacrifices that were made to be where we are today,” Perry, a university board trustee, said.
“There will be challenges. Remember how dark things were — slavery and segregation. Use the tools we have to overcome them. History shows us we have the DNA in us to overcome any challenge,” he said.
Perry expects new hurdles with President Trump at the reins.
“With the new president, there will be new challenges,” Perry said. “After one month, we don’t know if he will be a great president or not. He is off to a rocky start. We cannot control him, but we can control how we deal with it. You have to have the intestinal fortitude to deal with it.”
The best way to deal with challenges, Perry said, is to identify the problem and analyze how to attack it. He suggested looking at all angles, encouraging people to go after it by going around it, over it or above it.
“In life, we all face challenges,” he said. “The question is how you deal with it. You can feel sorry for yourself and do nothing, or overcome. Look at history to see what we have overcome.
“… It’s not easy. It may be difficult. Use history as a road map and inspiration.”
According to the Tallahassee Democrat report, Perry was the first African-American to be elected to the circuit bench of the 9th Circuit in Florida without first being appointed. An attorney at Morgan & Morgan, P.A., in Orlando, Perry also was the first African-American chair of the Florida Conference of Circuit Court Judges. He spent 18 of his 25 years on the bench as chief judge of Orange and Osceola counties.
In 1977, according to his law-firm profile page, Perry began his legal career with the Office of the State Attorney, serving as a trial lawyer. He concluded his service there with the prosecutor’s office as chief assistant state attorney in 1989. He earned a Bachelor of Science in history in 1972 from Tuskegee University and a Master of Education in student personnel services in 1974.
Perry studied law at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, receiving his degree in 1977, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.