Mr. Phillip. O. Berry, a native of Charlotte, was a dreamer. An orphan at an early age, Phillip Berry was reared by his grandmother and other family members and overcame significant challenges to become well respected in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and North Carolina.
Phillip was an excellent student. However, he was not allowed to attend West Mecklenburg High School, which offered the more advanced math courses he would need for the career he was planning in engineering. West Mecklenburg High School was not integrated at that time. Phillip graduated from the all African-American Plato Price High School as the valedictorian of his class.
Phil completed college with degrees in commercial credit and banking and engineering/math. He excelled in his studies and achieved many honors and awards.
Professionally, he was active in many fund-raising projects for the community. Among a few, were the McCrory Branch YMCA, Student Legal Defense Fund, United Negro College Fund and many more.
In 1972, Phillip Berry was the first African-American to be elected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. He served on the Board for ten years, and was elected Chairman in 1976, servicing in that capacity until 1982.
He was on the State Association of School Boards and a member of the Board of Directors, serving as State Board President for one year. Berry was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. Phillip Berry was an educator of and for the people.
Still dreaming, Berry was elected to the North Carolina House of representatives as the first African-American from Charlotte. He was an education activist. In 1984, Phil decided to run for a seat in the North Carolina Senate. His race and life were cut short with his passing in October 1984.
Phillip O. Berry committed his life to serving the people of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and North Carolina. He was passionate about education being the great equalizer in opportunity for all people. As such, it is fitting that our school bear his name.