Perry’s style as a litigator and advocate was resolute, dignified, strategic ”” and inexhaustible. As a young black lawyer facing all-white juries and judges, he learned to accept defeat at the trial level while building a record to support his case when appealed to higher courts, where he often won and established significant precedents. Patience and determination were key elements in his approach, often in contrast to lawyers who preferred a louder, bolder approach.
“In life you come to realize that there are some things that you can change and some that you cannot change, at least not immediately; and one of them happens to be racial attitudes,” Perry said in an interview with Columbia College history professor Robert Moore for a 2004 article.
In a conversation with The State last month, Perry acknowledged the phrase “at least not immediately” was key to his thinking. The goal always, he said, was “insist upon the enforcement of rights.”