Share this:

Learn about Loretta C. Manggrum


Loretta C. Manggrum, formerly Loretta Cessor, was born in Gallipolis, Ohio, and learned to play the piano from her mother, a teacher and musician. By age 15, she supported the family, earning up to $35 a week playing for orchestras and parties. Her mother became ill, so she dropped out of high school to provide for her care. 


 In 1918Loretta married the love of her life, William Langston Manggrum. The couple and their children moved to Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and eventually, Cincinnati in 1926, where William worked as a pharmacist, and Loretta played the piano to accompany the silent films.  


Receive our newsletter for all things Black Cincinnati!


Loretta C. Manggrum
Loretta C. Manggrum, the first African American to receive a degree from CCM

By the mid-1930s, the Manggrums opened a drugstore in Walnut Hills where the whole family worked. In 1945, when the children were older, and the family drugstore was doing well, Loretta pursued her diploma from Hughes High School at 49.


Manggrum continued her education by spending summers at various music programs. But, when she applied for a summer program at Ohio State University, the dean insisted she enroll in a degree-level course instead. With that encouragement, Manggrum earned her Bachelor of Music degree in 1951.



Related Article: Stay in the know with these Cincinnati jazz concerts and venues!



L.C. Manggrum
L.C. Manggrum was an American pianist, music educator, and composer of sacred music

 Manggrum became the first African American to earn a degree from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music two years later Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She graduated at 57 with a Master of Music from the school that denied her daughter entrance years earlier.


Her beloved husband, William, died in 1955. Manggrum sold the drugstore and began a 10-year career teaching music at the Garfield School. She also lent her musical talents to Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, Union Baptist Church, and Gaines United Methodist Church.



Related Article: 20 Good Books about Race, Diversity, and Inclusion



At 80, Manggrum returned to CCM to pursue a Ph.D., but primarily to work on her stalled cantata. She died in May 1992 and is buried next to her husband at the Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, West Virginia.


In her lifetime, Loretta C. Manggrum (aka L.C. Manggrum) published several works that now reside in the Library of Congress. In 1986, the University of Cincinnati conferred an honorary Doctor of Music upon Manggrum, recognizing her contributions to music and the city of Cincinnati.



Dr. Loretta C. Manggrum | Walnut Hills History (
Loretta Cessor Manggrum – Wikipedia


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 Wikipedia and Amistad Research Center

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.