Judge Belvin Perry recalls growing up during segregation, the KKK, why his father became an OPD cop

Judge Belvin Perry recalls growing up during segregation, the KKK, why his father became an OPD cop

ORLANDO, Fla. — Belvin Perry Jr. grew up in Orlando during the 1950s, the son of one of the Orlando Police Department's first black officers. Perry witnessed the dramatic changes that occurred in Central Florida – and across the South – as a direct result of the Civil Rights movement. He knew what Orlando was like as a completely segregated city, but also experienced firsthand the opportunities that opened up to African-Americans with integration during the mid-1960s.

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Perry attained multiple degrees, including his law degree from Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law. When he returned to Orlando, he said, he had difficulty finding a job with local law firms, where he had intended to work as a civil attorney. Instead, he went to work for the State Attorney's Office and rose through the ranks to become chief assistant state attorney, prosecuting some of the area's most notorious criminals.

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Later, he ran for circuit judge and won. Ultimately he became Chief Judge for Orange and Osceola, one of Florida's largest judicial circuits. As judge, Perry presided over some of the area's most infamous cases, including the Casey Anthony murder trial, which captured a national television audience during the summer of 2011. Perry has since retired from the bench and gone on to practice civil law with Morgan & Morgan. He also works with WFTV as a legal analyst and expert.

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Perry recently sat down with WFTV to discuss the changes he has seen in Orlando and across Central Florida as part of a series of conversations to commemorate Black History Month

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