A native of Cincinnati’s West End, William Mallory was the son of a casual laborer and a domestic. His interest in politics began when he started reading the editorial pages of the newspapers incessantly at 12 years old. Leading youth organizations soon followed.
Mallory attended Bloom Junior High School, East Vocational High School and Central State University, where he graduated with honors with a major in elementary education. He taught in the Cincinnati Public Schools and worked several government jobs before being elected president of the West End Community Council in 1965.
One year later, William Mallory was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. Eight years later, in 1974, he was elected Majority Floor Leader, the first African-American to hold that position. Mallory served in the Ohio Legislature for 28 years before retiring in 1994. He has the record of being the longest–serving majority leader in Ohio’s history and the longest–serving Ohio representative from Hamilton County.
A partial list of William Mallory’s accomplishments during the time he represented Hamilton County is as follows:
- Establishing the first statewide drug prevention program
- Financing for the Riverfront Stadium and Fountain Square South
- Developing the home furlough program for non-violent prisoners upon their release
- Filing a lawsuit charging discrimination in the election of judges on a countywide basis resulting in 14 judicial districts being established and making it easier for African-American candidates to win seats in the Hamilton County Municipal Court
- Playing a significant role in the creation of Metro and organizing a carpool to transport workers and students in the West End to their jobs and schools during a 36–day bus strike
- Creating the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission
- Locating the Queen City Vocational School in the West End
- Forming the first community housing development corporation
In all, Mallory sponsored or co-sponsored more than 600 pieces of legislation and was appointed to several political, gubernatorial, congressional and presidential committees.
Over the years, Mallory was recognized for his support of education, senior citizens, public transportation, mental health, and American Civil Liberties issues. Central State University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1972, the first one given to an alumnus. The university has also inducted him into its hall of fame and has named a street in his honor.
Mallory married his wife, Fannie, in 1955, and they have six children. He loved to dance the jitterbug and enjoyed sports, including softball and track, and held the record at Bloom for the broad jump. What is more, he taught as an adjunct professor of Political Science and African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati for 25 of the 28 years he served in the General Assembly. In 2008, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber as a Great Living Cincinnatian honored Mallory,
William Mallory died in 2013 at the age of 82. Although his life as a prominent African American was extraordinary, it was not easy. Mallory and his family were the recipients of three death threats.
William L. Mallory, Sr. | African American Resources | Cincinnati History Library and Archives (cincymuseum.org)
The First 28, graciously sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, celebrates Black Cincinnatians who were the first in their fields. Each day during Black History Month, we will celebrate athletes, artists, business leaders, civil rights activists, educators, physicians and politicians.
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