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Cincinnati leader & aunt of Cincy State faculty member was honored at statue dedication

Marian A. Spencer, a Cincinnati civil rights activist and political and civic leader for many years–  and the great-aunt of Cincinnati State faculty member Daniel Anderson– was honored on June 27, 2021, with the dedication of a statue at Smale Riverfront Park in downtown Cincinnati.

The statue for Mrs. Spencer marked the first time a woman in Cincinnati has been recognized with a named statue.

The figures of two children in the sculpture symbolize Mrs. Spencer’s work with youth and her legacy of inspiration to future generations.

Anderson family with Marian Spencer statue
From left: Gina Erardi (assistant sculptor), David Anderson (Daniel’s brother), Tom Tsuchiya (sculptor), Camille Haamid (Daniel’s mother), and Daniel Anderson.

The event was attended by a large crowd of family members, friends, and admirers of Mrs. Spencer, who died in 2019 at age 99.

Mrs. Spencer was awarded an honorary degree from Cincinnati State in 2015.

The statue dedication was delayed for a year by the pandemic and took place just before what would have been Mrs. Spencer’s 101st birthday.

Professor Anderson said, “I am overjoyed and honored for my great-aunt to be the focus of the first statue in Cincinnati named for a woman.”

“She was a remarkable woman of dignity, compassion and grace, who stood up for justice and equality,” Professor Anderson said.

“She was born in 1920 in Gallipolis, Ohio, where she witnessed the Ku Klux Klan marching down her street, and where my great great grandfather, an ex-slave, inspired her to fight for justice.”

Mrs. Spencer’s contributions to the Greater Cincinnati region included leading the efforts to desegregate Coney Island’s swimming pools in the 1950s, and serving as the first Black woman elected to Cincinnati City Council, in 1983, as well as serving as vice-mayor of the city.

Mrs. Spencer held leadership roles in NAACP, the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, and the Woman’s City Club, along with contributions to many other organizations.

She was honored as a “Great Living Cincinnatian” in 1998 and received numerous other accolades throughout her life.