Reginald Akkeem Berry was born in Chicago, IL in 1962. Raised on the Westside of Chicago, he attended Delano Elementary School, Lawrence Upper Grade Center, and Westinghouse Vocational High School. While at Delano, Reginald earned the highest reading and math score the school has ever seen. Thirty-seven years later, there has yet to be another student to out-perform his Iowa test scores. Reginald was also offered promotions twice to higher grade levels while at Delano Elementary but he and his parents declined. Reginald also excelled in school as co-captain of the wrestling and football team’s, as well as, taking honors classes. His last 3 months of secondary education were spent at Manley High School, where he graduated on the honor-roll. He attended Southern Illinois University with a 4-year football scholarship, but returned to Chicago during the first semester and enrolled in Triton College. More personally, Reginald was 1 of 9 children born to Joseph and Christine Berry. His father was a preacher and Reginald attended church regularly while growing up. At the early age of 12, he taught Sunday school bible classes to both his peers and adults. Reginald was simultaneously making a name for himself in the streets, and would end up joining the Vice Lord “4-Corner Hustler (4 c/h)” street gang in his neighborhood. Reginald grew up fast. At the age of 17 he became a father to his first son, Reginald Jr. and was blessed with Elite status in his gang. He would go on to gain a reputation as a no-nonsense kind of guy. Both drugs and guns became easily accessible to Reginald as a rising gang chief. Having been groomed by some of the most notorious leader’s of the 4 c/h’s, it wouldn’t be long before he was emulating their ruthlessness throughout the city.
At the age of 21, Reginald’s second son Joseph Akkeem was born. Later he would end up marrying Joseph’s mother Denise Smith, a young lady from the same neighborhood. What looked like a promising future for Reginald and his family came to an abrupt halt. Reginald would now turn his full attention to “Stackin’ his money,” as he often stressed. He’d become entrapped in a lifestyle of luxury including, tailored suits, fine cars, jewelry, and whatever amenity his heart desired. To put it plainly, he was “Living the life!” Money, honor, and respect were all at his disposal. Despite the fact that he’d caught numerous criminal cases, he developed a sense of invincibility and felt as if he was above the law. His delusions of invincibility all came crashing down on one night in 1988, when his world changed as he knew it, and unfortunately would never be the same again. At the age of 25, Reginald was arrested for Murder in the first-degree, and sentenced a year later to 33 years in prison. While incarcerated he continued to sell dope and assert his authority as a “chief” for his gang. His misbehavior caused him to be transferred from prison to prison in an attempt to nullify his influence. After nearly 10 years of this madness, another major change would occur. In the year 1997, the Lord showed him a vision and gave him a direct assignment while in his cell; the message was to “save our sons” from Death and Destruction. This calling gave birth to Saving Our Sons Ministries, an organization that came to fruition once Reginald was released from prison in September of 2006, after serving 17 years, 9 months and 1 day.
Today Reginald and Denise Berry are the founders of Saving Our Sons Ministries, Inc. an outreach of Greater Open Door MB Church, located at 1302 S. Sawyer. This ministry consists of going out into neighborhoods and dealing first hand with the real life issues of our youth. The organization’s work includes employing the youth with jobs and networking with other organizations to secure for youth the services and help needed to be productive citizens. Reginald, who is an eloquent orator, has spoken at numerous Chicago Public Schools, DePaul University, Northwestern University, Concordia University, Loyola University and many other organizations. Reginald also uses his talents to fight for equal rights for all of Tamms Correctional Center inmates who are locked up 23 hours-a-day and never allowed to come in contact with another inmate. He recently spoke before the Illinois Prison Review Board on April 24, 2008 at the J. R. Thompson Center and also the Illinois Senate. Many State Senators and Representatives were present to hear him discuss the conditions at Tamms, where Reginald served 8 of his 18 years in solitary confinement. Reginald has been featured in a number of media outlets including, but not limited to, The Chicago Reader Newspaper, The Lawndale Newspaper, and The History Channel’s “Gangland” series as both a consultant and feature guest. For the past couple years, Reginald maintained positions at Breaking Ground, The Chicago Christian Industrial League and Ceasefire, but decided to step out on faith and dedicate his time and energy solely to Saving Our Sons Ministries. Reginald continues to reside on the Westside of Chicago with his wife Denise. Their son Reggie Jr. is currently attending Malcolm X College, where he will graduate with in the Fall of 2009 with a degree in Mortuary Science. Their youngest son, Joseph graduated from Southern Illinois University in May of 2006 with a B.S. in Film and Cinema. Following a stint as Film Director at North Lawndale College Prep High School, he launched an independent film company called Joe Black Productions.