The Midtown Cultural & Educational Center will be renamed the Julia T. and Charles W. Cherry Sr. Cultural & Educational Center in a public ceremony 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at the center, which is located at 925 George W. Engram Blvd.
Commissioners approved the renaming of the facility in the Cherry’s honor to commemorate the couple’s legacy and philanthropic contributions to the City of Daytona Beach.
Charles W. Cherry, Sr.
Charles W. Cherry, Sr.’s life was multi-faceted. The centerpiece was a strong determination to see equal rights for all people, particularly in Daytona Beach and the state of Florida.
The Americus, Georgia, native played basketball in high school and was a saxophonist in the school band.
He went on to Morehouse College and earned degrees in business administration and mathematics. He later received his master’s degree from Alabama State University in 1953. He served in the U.S. Army from 1950 to 1952 during the Korean conflict. While a student at Morehouse, he was initiated in 1947 into the Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
He moved to Daytona Beach in 1952 and became active in the civil rights movement, participating in sit-ins and other actions in the 1960s to help bring about integration. After moving to Daytona Beach, he served as an educator and business manager at then Bethune-Cookman College.
He also was a Realtor, a newspaper and radio station owner, and served four full terms as a Daytona Beach city commissioner.
He married Julia Troutman on May 18, 1953, and they became the parents of three children – Charles II, Glenn and Cassandra.
As one of the state’s few African American bail bondsman, he worked to get civil rights protestors including his Morehouse College schoolmate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – released from Florida jails in the 1960s.
Amid all these endeavors, he also served several terms as president of the Volusia County-Daytona Beach Branch of the NAACP, as president of the Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches, and as a member of the National Board of the NAACP.
He became president of the Volusia County branch of the NAACP in 1971, was president of the state NAACP from 1974 to 1984, and later headed the local chapter again.
Cherry was elected in 1977 to the NAACP’s national board, serving for 12 years. He also was a strong backer of the Enterprise Center, a project to help small businesses get started.
In 1969, Mr. Cherry, launched the Daytona Beach’s Westside Rapper, a Black weekly newspaper serving the African American community in Daytona Beach, Florida.
In August 1978, the Westside Rapper was succeeded by the Daytona Times.
In 1989, Cherry, Sr. went on to establish the Florida Courier, which was originally circulated only in the Fort Pierce and Vero Beach areas. That same year, the Cherry family purchased WPUL-AM 1590, a Daytona Beach-area radio station.
In 2001, the Cherry family’s media business expanded to become Tama Broadcasting, Inc., then Florida’s largest privately-owned African American media group, which owned or operated 11 radio stations across three states.
Mr. Cherry was elected to the Daytona Beach City Commission on Oct. 17, 1995, representing Zone 6. He was re-elected in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003. He served until his death in 2004.
He was a member of Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church.
Mr. Cherry died on Nov. 16, 2004, on his wife’s 77th birthday. Upon his death, Julia Cherry took over the family businesses as board chairwoman and senior consultant. In 2006, the family, led by Julia Cherry, relaunched the Florida Courier as a statewide newspaper.
In 2014, Mr. Cherry was inducted posthumously into the Florida Press Association’s Newspaper Hall of Fame.
JULIA TROUTMAN CHERRY
Julia Mae Troutman was born in Leslie, Georgia, on Nov. 16, 1927, to Willis Troutman and Emma Mae Harris Troutman, the second of two girls. Her sister, Bobbie Rose Troutman, was five years older.
Julia Troutman attended Zion Hill Elementary School in Desoto, then Staley High School in Americus, Georgia, where she played basketball and was elected Miss Staley High 1944.
Julia attended Morris Brown College in Atlanta, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in home economics with a minor in chemistry in 1955.
After a brief stay with Charles who had taken a job at Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina, the young Cherrys moved to Daytona Beach in late 1955. At then Bethune-Cookman College, Julia earned a teaching certificate in elementary education and served as Assistant Counselor of Women.
After the birth of her three children, she began her teaching career in 1963 at Campbell Elementary School, Daytona Beach’s high-performing, all-Black elementary school. This was the highlight of her educational career. The tight-knit staff and faculty made a serious impact on students for years to come.
In 1969, Campbell Elementary was closed permanently. Mrs. Cherry, along with Campbell’s other Black faculty and staff, was scattered among predominantly White public schools. She landed at Osceola Elementary in Ormond Beach and worked as a teacher for 25 years in Volusia County. During her teaching career, she taught hundreds of fourth and sixth graders.
The joy of Julia’s life was her family. From her union with Charles came three children – Charles II, Glenn and Cassandra.
After the passing of their father, Charles W. Cherry II, Esq., would go on to use his legal and journalistic skills and talent to help run the family’s media empire. Dr. Glenn Cherry, a veteran and a veterinarian, would eventually become the company’s CEO. Cassandra Cherry Kittles, a Volusia County Schools employee, would also become an integral part of the newspapers’ editing staff.
For her three children as well as her three grandchildren (Jamal, Chayla and Charles III), she was their biggest supporter, encourager and cheerleader. Their greatest teacher.
While living in Daytona Beach, Julia became active in local organizations, particularly Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Bethune-Cookman University Women’s Advisory Board. She was a Golden Life Member of her sorority, a founding member of the DeLand Alumnae Chapter (Florida), and a Golden Heritage Life Member of the NAACP.
She had been baptized as a child at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Desoto, Georgia, and continued church membership throughout her life. She joined Daytona Beach’s Hope Fellowship Church under the spiritual leadership of Bishop Derek Triplett in 1995, sang in the Senior Choir, was designated a church mother, and remained a faithful member until her death.
In her later years at Hope, she enjoyed the pastoral leadership of Dr. J.P. McGhee and served as a mentor and avid supporter as he launched his ecumenical career.
Julia Troutman Cherry died on April 24, 2022.
Mr. and Mrs. Cherry are survived by three children: Charles W. Cherry II, J.D., MBA; Cassandra Cherry Kittles; Dr. Glenn Cherry; grandchildren: Jamal Cherry, Chayla Cherry and Charles W. Cherry III; son-in-law, Willie Kittles, daughter-in-law Dr. Valerie Cherry.