University of Cincinnati Acquires Archives of Civil Rights Leaders

The University of Cincinnati Libraries has announced the acquisition of the personal archives of Marian and Donald Spencer, two of the leaders of the civil rights movement in Cincinnati.

Marian Spencer served as vice mayor of Cincinnati and was a major force in the effort to desegregate the city’s public schools. Her late husband Donald was one of the first African American realtors in the city. Both Spencers graduated from the University of Cincinnati.

The Marian and Donald Spencer Collection spans eight decades and includes letters, memoranda, articles, memorabilia, photographs, honors, awards and more. The collection also includes stories connected to the University of Cincinnati’s history, such as the creation of extracurricular activities and organizations for African American students and the integration of on-campus student housing.

Neville Pinto, president of the University of Cincinnati, stated that “through a lifetime of activism and civil rights leadership, Marian and Donald Spencer were groundbreakers in making the University of Cincinnati, our region and our nation more aware of racial inequities. We are proud to house their collection at the university, where students, faculty, staff and the entire community can learn from and be inspired by their stories.”

Xuemao Wang, university librarian, added that “the Marian and Donald Spencer Collection enriches our understanding of Cincinnati during the civil rights era and is a vital addition to the University of Cincinnati Libraries. The archives tell Marian and Donald’s powerful life stories, from leading the desegregation of Coney Island to helping African Americans purchase homes in an anti-Black market. We are honored to preserve the Spencers’ legacy for future generations.”


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