Charles W. Cherry, Sr.
Year Inducted: 2014
Charles W. Cherry, Sr.’s life was multi-faceted. The centerpiece: a determination to see equal rights for all people, particularly in Daytona Beach and the state of Florida.
A decorated Korean Conflict veteran, he served as a Bethune-Cookman College educator and its business manager, a REALTOR®, a newspaper and radio station owner, and four full terms as a Daytona Beach city commissioner. As one of the state’s few African-American bail bondsman, he worked to get civil rights protestors – including fellow Morehouse College graduate 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.
Cherry, Sr. began his newspaper career when he launched Daytona Beach’s Westside Rapper in 1969 “to have our own Black voice.” The Daytona Times succeeded the Westside Rapper in 1978. In 1989, Cherry, Sr. went on to establish the Florida Courier to reach Florida’s Treasure Coast. 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.
Cherry, Sr. died in 2004. In 2006, the family, led by Julia T. Cherry, his wife of 52 years, relaunched the Florida Courier as a statewide newspaper (audited circulation: 90,000 weekly). It now serves Miami-Dade, Broward, St. Lucie, Orange, Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Duval counties.
Both the Florida Courier and the Daytona Times stay true to the Black Press’s tradition of “pleading our own cause.” Both continue the legacy of Charles W. Cherry, Sr.