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William L. Mallory, Sr.

A native of Cincinnati's West End, Representative William L. Mallory was born in 1931. The son of a casual laborer and a domestic, his desire to be successful and his interest in politics propelled him to the Ohio House of Representatives and to years of service to the community.

His interest in politics began at an early age. When only 12 years old, he was reading newspapers incessantly, particularly the editorial pages. This interest was stimulated by political discussions with Dr. R. P. McClain, the second black city councilman in Cincinnati history. William Mallory's first elected positions were as secretary of student government in high school and as president of the Ninth Street Hi Y Club of the YMCA.

  William L. Mallory, Sr.
William L. Mallory, Sr.
Mallory Photograph Collection
Cincinnati History Library and Archives
Cincinnati Museum Center
Mallory attended Bloom Junior High School from 1944 to 1947. In addition to politics, he enjoyed sports, including softball and track, and held the record at Bloom for the broad jump. Mallory also loved to jitterbug to the music of Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and Woody Herman. As a young man, he worked at a variety of jobs, such as selling newspapers in front of City Hall and unloading freight cars. He was also a bus boy, a junkman, an iceman, a camp councilor, a porter and a bowling alley attendant.
Despite being a high school drop out, Mallory later graduated from East Vocational High School and entered Central State University in 1951. He worked his way through college by painting dormitories and working in the cafeteria, and graduated with honors with a major in elementary education. While in college he met his wife, Fannie. They married in 1955 and have six children, all successful in the community. William Mallory, Jr. is an Appeals District Court judge for the 1st District. Mark Mallory is Mayor of the City of Cincinnati, while Joe Mallory is an elections administrator at the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Dwane Mallory is a Municipal Court judge in Hamilton County, and Dale Mallory serves in the Ohio General Assembly representing the 32nd Ohio House District. Leslie Denise Mallory is a sales representative for the Ohio Lottery.
Following his graduation from Central State, William Mallory worked as a unit leader for the juvenile court, as a case worker for the Hamilton County Welfare Department and as a highway inspector. He also taught elementary school for eight years in the Cincinnati Public Schools. Underlying all his activities, however, was his continued interest in politics and the community, and in 1965, he was elected president of the West End Community Council.
In 1966, William Mallory was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, the beginning of a 28 year career in the Ohio legislature. Eight years later, he was elected Majority Floor Leader, the first African-American to hold that position. He retired in 1994 holding the record of being the longest serving majority leader in Ohio's history and the longest serving Ohio representative from Hamilton County.
During his service in the General Assembly, William L. Mallory sponsored or co-sponsored over 600 pieces of legislation. Highlights include legislation creating the first state-wide drug prevention program, the Urban Minority Alcohol Drug Outreach Program. His legislation also helped to finance the Riverfront Stadium and Fountain Square South in Cincinnati and created the home furlough program for non-violent prisoners upon their release from prison.


  Mallory Reports
Page 1 of the Mallory Reports, July 1987
William L. Mallory, Sr. Papers, 1950-1998, Mss 993, Box 2, Folder 12
Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center

In 1986, Mallory filed a lawsuit charging discrimination in the election of judges on a countywide basis. As a result, 14 judicial districts were established, making it easier for African-American candidates to win seats in the Hamilton County Municipal Court.
In Cincinnati, Mallory played a major role in the creation of a publicly owned transit system, now known as Metro, by serving as co-chairman of the Citizen's Transportation Committee. Later during a 36 day bus strike, he and his wife organized a carpool to transport workers and students in the West End to their jobs and schools throughout the city. He also worked to create the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission which replaced the Mayor's Friendly Relations Committee. William Mallory was influential in locating the Queen City Vocational School in the West End and for creating the first community housing development corporation which built Uptown Towers.
On the national level, Representative Mallory was appointed to the National Highway Safety Advisory Committee by President Carter and to the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee by President Clinton.
Mallory won many awards for his support of education, senior citizens, public transportation, mental health, and American Civil Liberties issues. A few of William Mallory's awards include the City Manager's award for his contributions to the City of Cincinnati, the National Conference of State Legislatures Award for Leadership, and the Martin Luther King Dream Keeper award. His alma mater, Central State University, awarded him an honorary doctorate 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.
In addition, William Mallory's accomplishments include serving as chairman of the House Select Committee on Technology and as vice-chairman of the House Select Committee on Health Care Reform. He has been co-chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party and president of the Black Elected Democrats of Ohio. Continuing his strong interest in education, Mallory taught as an adjunct professor of Political Science and African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati from 1969 to 1994.
At the same time, life as a prominent African American has not been easy. Mallory and his family have been the recipients of three death threats.
Since his retirement, Mallory has been engaged in numerous causes. He founded the Mallory Center for Community Development, a non-profit agency in Cincinnati, as well as the African American Historical Ball, an annual event honoring great African Americans. In 2003, Mallory was chosen in a survey by WCIN as one of the 50 most influential African Americans in the last fifty years, and he received an award from the Department of Aging honoring his work establishing the Commission on Aging. Mallory was also appointed by Ohio Governor Bob Taft to the Ohio Elections Commission, for a five-year term beginning March 2003. In 2008, Mallory was honored by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber as a Great Living Cincinnatian, and in 2009 he received the Triumph Award from the Emanuel Community Center. The Mallory family was honored by the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in 2010. William Mallory died on December 10, 2013 at the age of 82.
On July 16, 2010, Scott Gampfer, Director of the Cincinnati History Library and History Collections, interviewed William L. Mallory Sr. at Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the StoryCorps project. (Video length: 29 minutes)


To learn more about William Mallory, consult the following resources:

William L. Mallory, Sr. Papers, 1950-2003
Mss 993
The collection reflects Mallory's legislative career as well as other interests and activities. It includes correspondence, speeches, newspaper clippings, press releases, campaign materials, legislation, committee minutes, certificates, programs and other materials. Topics include colleges and universities, day care, education, housing, minority business and reapportionment of legislative districts. For More information, a detailed register for this collection is available in the library.  Display Finding Aid (PDF)   Request slip

Sources Used for Biographical Sketch:
  • William L. Mallory, Sr. Papers, 1950-2003, Mss 993, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.

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This online guide opened on February 10, 2004.