By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Charles W. “Chuck” Cherry II, a prominent figure in the fight for social justice and a staunch supporter of the Black Press, has died.
According to the Daytona Times, the retired attorney and publisher of the Daytona Times and the Florida Courier passed away on Saturday, July 15, at the age of 66.
The newspaper called Cherry an influential voice in the community, who dedicated decades to running the editorial operations of the papers before retiring in 2020.
“Charles was not only a good person, but an individual who fought hard to bring truth to light about any situation,” said NNPA Chair Bobby Henry, the publisher of the Westside Gazette in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
“Charles was also a dear fraternity brother,” Henry related.
“He truly spoke truth to power without any hesitation. He was a lover and faithful soldier of the Black Press. Indeed, he was a soldier without a sword.”
NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., said the entire association of Black publishers were saddened by Cherry’s death.
“On behalf of the NNPA, we express our profound sympathy and condolences to the family of one of the NNPA’s stellar publishers and leaders, Charles W. Cherry II,” Chavis stated.
“Attorney Cherry was a fearless person and a renowned freedom fighting publisher,” Chavis added.
The Daytona Times noted that Cherry also counted as an accomplished author, speaker, radio broadcaster, and strategic business planning consultant.
In 2019, Cherry founded 623 Management, Inc., a company focused on developing and disseminating messaging to Black America, with a particular emphasis on understanding and reaching Florida’s Black population through a comprehensive marketing strategy, the newspaper reported.
He was a sought-after speaker on Black history and civil rights, both in Daytona Beach and beyond.
Born on August 6, 1956, in Daytona Beach, Charles W. Cherry II was the son of Julia T. Cherry and Charles W. Cherry Sr., the founder of the Daytona Times and Florida Courier newspapers.
His father was also a past president of the Florida NAACP and a former Daytona Beach city commissioner.
Chuck Cherry graduated from Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach and went on to receive his B.A. degree in journalism from Morehouse College in 1978.
During his time at Morehouse, he followed in his father’s footsteps by pledging Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Cherry continued his education at the University of Florida, earning both an M.B.A. and J.D. in 1982.
“His involvement at Morehouse included serving as president of its Interfraternity Council, Basileus of the Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, a Student Government Association representative, and a four-year track letterman in the high jump,” the newspaper reported.
After being admitted to the Florida Bar in December 1983, Cherry worked as a former Fort Lauderdale city and South Florida state prosecutor, practicing law for 21 years.
However, upon the passing of his father, Charles W. Cherry Sr., he returned to journalism and newspaper publishing as his primary occupation.
Cherry served as general counsel to the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale for over a decade and held the role of general manager for the family-owned radio station WPUL-AM.
Additionally, he hosted the station’s popular “Free Your Mind” radio show.
His influential column, “Straight, No Chaser,” was a weekly staple in the Florida Courier, earning Cherry numerous Florida and national awards.
In 1994, he authored and published “Excellence Without Excuse: The Black Student’s Guide to Academic Excellence,” which has been widely used as a textbook in college-preparation classes and seminars.
He also co-wrote “Fighting through the Fear” in 2016 with his Morehouse College roommate and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity brother, C. David Moody Jr. of Atlanta.
Cherry is survived by his two children, Chayla Cherry, a recent graduate of Spelman College and a recipient of a Master’s in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, and Charles W. Cherry III, a student at Morehouse College.
He is also survived by his former wife, Lisa Rogers Cherry of Fort Lauderdale, his brother Dr. Glenn Cherry (Dr. Valerie Cherry) of Tampa, his sister Cassandra Cherry Kittles (Willie Kittles) of Daytona Beach, his nephew Jamal Cherry (Dr. Sierra Cherry) of Houston, Texas, his great-niece Mila Cherry of Houston, and other relatives. He was preceded in death by his father, Charles W. Cherry Sr., his mother, Julia Mae Troutman Cherry, and a daughter, Chip Happy Cherry.