Ravi Perry, Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University, Writes Book Chronicling the Legacy of Toledo, Ohio’s First Black Mayor, Jack Ford

Ravi Perry, a former Toledoan who is now an assistant professor at Mississippi State University, focused his new book, ‘Black Mayors, White Majorities,’ on the first black mayors of Toledo and Dayton. THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
Ravi Perry, a former Toledoan who is now an assistant professor at Mississippi State University, focused his new book, ‘Black Mayors, White Majorities,’ on the first black mayors of Toledo and Dayton.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY

More than eight years after he left office, former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford is the focus of a new book by former Toledoan Ravi Perry: Black Mayors, White Majorities: The Balancing Act of Racial Politics.

Published by the University of Nebraska and written in scholarly style, the book examines whether black voters’ high expectations of black politicians are being fulfilled through a close look at two black Ohio mayors: Mr. Ford in Toledo and Dayton’s Rhine McLin.

Mr. Perry, 31, who graduated from Central Catholic High School in 2001 and is an assistant professor of political science at Mississippi State University, said much has been written about the first black mayors in cities with black majorities or near-majorities.

During Mr. Ford’s administration, Toledo’s African-American population was 27.1 percent.

“Of course, you’d expect black mayors in those cities to represent the majority,” Mr. Perry said. “I wanted to know what black politicians can do in a largely white city for African-Americans.”

Mr. Perry finds Mr. Ford’s accomplishments for black voters to have been “substantive” — especially his backing of administrator and contractor employment for blacks and the CareNet health-care program. But he says Mr. Ford’s low profile and some backlash against his policies, contributed to his loss to fellow Democrat Carty Finkbeiner in 2005.

The book provides a summary of racial issues that percolated in Toledo since its founding and then expanded on those that developed after Mr. Ford emerged as a city council candidate in 1986, his service on council from 1987 to 1994, his eight years in the Ohio House of Representatives, and then through his term as mayor, 2002-2006.

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Source: Toledo Blade | TOM TROY

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