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James Leroy Usry (February 2, 1922, in Athens, Georgia[1] – February 25, 2002, in Absecon, New Jersey[2]) was the first African American Mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Usry graduated from Atlantic City High School and earned a bachelor's degree in 1946 from Lincoln University. From 1946 to 1951, he was a professional basketball player with the New York Renaissance and Dayton Rens.[3][4] In 1971, he earned a master's degree from Glassboro State College.[1]

A Republican, Usry served as mayor from 1984 to 1990, after defeating Mayor Michael J. Matthews in a recall election. From 1952 to 1984, Usry was an educator in the Atlantic City School District, where he served as assistant superintendent from 1977 to 1984.

On March 20, 1987, Usry was nominated by President Ronald Reagan for a two-year term on the National Advisory Council on Educational Research and Improvement.[1]

On July 28, 1989, Usry was arrested with 13 other political leaders following an investigation into municipal corruption. He was charged with bribery, conspiracy, official misconduct and accepting unlawful gifts.[5]

In 1990, Usry was succeeded as mayor by Jim Whelan.

All major charges against Usry were dropped when he pled guilty to improper reporting of campaign contributions and agreed to perform 60 hours of community service with the Salvation Army.[6]

The James L. Usry Child Day Care Center in Atlantic City is named for him.


  1. ^ a b c "Nomination of James L. Usry To Be a Member of the National Advisory Council on Educational Research and Improvement"
  2. ^ "James L. Usry, the first Black mayor of Atlantic City, Succumbs At 79"
  3. ^ NBA Vintage Stories - Remembering The Rens By John Hareas
  4. ^ 1948-49 Dayton Rens statistics
  5. ^ "Mayor Usry Returns to Work", The New York Times, August 1, 1989.
  6. ^ "Atlantic City's Ex-Mayor Pleads Guilty to a Campaign Violation" The New York Times, December 11, 1991.
Preceded by
Michael J. Matthews
Mayor of Atlantic City
Succeeded by
Jim Whelan


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