Share this:

Donald and Marian Spencer


Married in 1940 and often with their two boys in tow, Donald and Marian Spencer worked tirelessly for educational equity and equal rights for over a halfcentury. 


Receive our newsletter for all things Black Cincinnati!



The Spencer’s
The Spencer’s public lives deservedly earned the family plaudits and recognition.

Donald Spencer (1915-2010) was one of Cincinnati’s first African American realtors. He also became the first African American broker to serve as President of the Cincinnati Board of Realtors. Additionally, he was the first African American trustee of Ohio University (1974-1983). Mr. Spencer was passionate about Cincinnati Parks and worked to ensure all Cincinnatians had access to green spaces and to keep the Krohn Conservatory free for residents.


Marian Spencer (1920 –2019) was the first African American woman on the Cincinnati City Council. She also worked with the Board of Education to desegregate schools. Additionally, she chaired the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and was the first African American president of the Woman’s City Club. Moreover, Mrs. Spencer was the first female president of the Cincinnati NAACP chapter and a trustee of the University of Cincinnati. 


Related Article: The History of African Americans in Cincinnati


After being banished from the front gate of Coney Island by a guard brandishing a gun on July 4, 1952, Marian Spencer filed a lawsuit and subsequently won the case, which desegregated the amusement park. Later, in 2004, she initiated litigation and won a lawsuit that aimed to restrain members of the Republican Party from implementing tactics that would discriminate against Black voters in  Hamilton County.


Donal and Marian Spencers’ public lives deservedly earned the family plaudits and recognition, including being the first husband and wife to be recognized as Great Living Cincinnatians by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. 


Related Article: Must-read Books by Black Authors in Cincinnati



Donald and Marian Spencer
Donald and Marian Spencer worked tirelessly for educational equity and equal rights for over a half-century.

Donald and Marian Spencer graduated from the University of Cincinnati and earned honorary degrees from Ohio University. Eden Park features the Donald Spencer Overlook, and tributes to his wife include a downtown street, a building at their alma mater, and a statue at Smale Riverfront Park.  


Donald Spencer, an accomplished jazz musician, taught at the Cincinnati Public Schools and was an activist. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and trustee at the New Vision United Methodist Church. Marian Spencer was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and The Links, Incorporated member.



Donald Andrew Spencer Sr. – Wikipedia
Donald and Marian Spencer: Lives of Love and Social Justice | LibLog (
Marian Spencer – Wikipedia
Cincinnati History Library and Archives –



About The First 28

The First 28, graciously sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, celebrates Black Cincinnatians who were the first in their fields. Each day during Black History Month, we will celebrate athletes, artists, business leaders, civil rights activists, educators, physicians, and politicians.



The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize, and create opportunities for African Americans. Want to find local news, events, job postings, scholarships, and a database of local Black-owned businesses? Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and text VOBC to 513-270-3880.


Images provided by Good Things Going Around and Cincinnatus


Share this:
Avatar photo

Written by Sophie Barsan

Sophie Barsan is a writer at The Voice of Black Cincinnati, where she covers events and client -focused content. Sophie's work is central to keeping the community informed about Cincinnati vibrant array of activities and opportunities. Her dedication to exploring and highlighting the city's cultural richness makes her stories a must-read for anyone looking to engage with the local scene. Connect with Sophie on LinkedIn for a deeper look into her articles and contributions.

Comments are closed.