On Honorable Discharges, by Civil Rights Leader Marian Spencer - for MLK Jr. 2011, Taft STEM Elementary School, Cincinnati, Ohio

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 01/16/2011 - 23:29.

Cincinnati Civil Rights leader Marian Spencer speaking at Taft STEM Elementary School MLK Day 2011
Cincinnati Civil Rights leader Marian Spencer speaking at Taft STEM Elementary School MLK Day 2011

In early commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2011, 90-something Cincinnati civil rights and community leader Marian Spencer spent Friday afternoon, January 14, sharing with the students at Taft STEM Elementary School her experiences knowing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helping to lead the civil rights movement of her day, in her state of Ohio.

Ms. Spencer and her family were civil rights trailblazers for Ohio African Americans, as she and her brothers and sister grew up in racist, segregationist times here, and forced change to Ohio public schools and the University of Cincinnati by excelling and fighting for equal rights and recognition for that. As children, Ms. Spencer's family had to fight so she and her sister could be the first African Americans admitted to their high school, where they became co-valedictorians. Ms. Spencer was thus the first African American to force her way into the National Honor Society - leading her to be the first African American to force her way into the University of Cincinnati School of Engineering - she told the children at Taft Elementary.

Yes, change is possible. Marian Spencer has seen and caused lots of change, in her long lifetime... she even became Vice-Mayor of Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Civil Rights leader Marian Spencer speaking at Taft STEM Elementary School MLK Day 2011
Cincinnati Civil Rights leader Marian Spencer speaking at Taft STEM Elementary School MLK Day 2011

In reflecting on Reverend King, she compared his senseless assassination to the recent shooting of a 9-year-old in Tuscon, Arizona, saying that girl could have been a Supreme Court Justice - these tragedies are senseless. It seemed she was trying to make sense of this tragedy herself, in the presence of these children about that same age. To Ms. Spencer, the loss of any promising life is clearly a tragedy.

But Ms. Spencer couldn't offer sensible explanations for these killings, and for much of what she had been through in her life, as she had lived her life changing things that were wrong.... changing fundamental things that were wrong.

She shared with the children that her grandfather was a freed slave and asked could they imagine what a slave would think of the lives these children live today - in so many ways life has changed for the better for African Americans.

She told a story from her childhood of her two brothers, who entered the military. One had health issues and received an honorable discharge. The other was called "the "N" word" by an officer and got into a fight, and received a dishonorable discharge. Ms. Spencer said the letters from the military notifying her brothers of their honorable and dishonorable discharges both hung with honor in her family home, as both boys had done the honorable thing, joining the military to fight for their nation, and both were honorable as soldiers, even if one was discriminated against and harmed by the military, and labeled "dishonorable". Ms. Spencer's family knew better, and taught their children better - and Ms. Spencer taught the Taft children that citizens need to learn to know better than their authorities... that is one lesson clearly learned by Ms. Spencer, in her 90-years.

Another lesson she learned and shared is to vote and get involved in your community leadership, as Ms. Spencer surely did.

Her overall message was that the system you encounter in life often may not be fair, honorable or right, so you must have the clarity of understanding of what is right to rise above the wrong. When words like "dishonorable" and "nigger" are applied to you by supposedly honorable powers, which are not honorable, you must have the sense to differentiate right from wrong and rise above.

Cincinnati Civil Rights leader and former Cincinnati NAAPC Chapter President Marian Spencer with current President Christopher Smitherman at Taft STEM Elementary School for MLK Day 2011
Cincinnati Civil Rights leader and former Cincinnati NAAPC Chapter President Marian Spencer
with NAACP Chapter President and Councilman Wendell Young at Taft STEM Elementary School for MLK Day 2011

Her legacy of community leadership is well demonstrated by her lifetime commitment to the NAACP - she joining at age 13... remaining involved throughout her life... rising to President of the Cincinnati Chapter - a later NAACP President, Cincinnati Councilman Wendell Young, introduced her at Taft Elementary and was clearly thrilled by the opportunity.

Ms. Spencer has spent all her 90+ years rising above discrimination, and stands tall as a model for children who must follow in her footsteps, fighting civil, social and environmental rights battles of today and certainly ahead. The children of Taft STEM Elementary School are fortunate to have role models like Martin Luther King Jr. and Marian Spencer to follow... and I'm sure the kids at Taft will always remember meeting a women who actually met MLK.

And these kids need the inspiration, as they are fighting so much in life AND for the survival of their school - a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math elementary that is clearly making a positive difference in the lives of 100s of children. The Cincinnati school district recently planned to close this school, and the students and friends of the school are in the early stages of a fight for Taft's life.

With Marian Spencer on their side, they may well win this fight for their right to quality education. She did.

Cincinnati Civil Rights leader Marian Spencer with student at Taft STEM Elementary School MLK Day 2011 Taft STEM Elementary School is scheduled for closing and these students are fighting for the survival of their school

Cincinnati Civil Rights leader Marian Spencer with student at Taft STEM Elementary School MLK Day 2011
Taft STEM Elementary School is scheduled for closing and these students are fighting for the survival of their school

Spencer, Irvine named to hall of Ohio’s elite civil rights leaders

Dr. Marian A. Spencer, the granddaughter of a freed slave, was born in Gallipolis, Ohio. She began a career as a civil rights activist at the age of 13 when she joined the NAACP. She graduated from high school as the co-valedictorian of her class and a member of the National Honor Society and then moved to Cincinnati to attend the University of Cincinnati where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. Dr. Spencer and her late husband, Dr. Donald Spencer, became well-known throughout the Cincinnati area as leaders in civil rights, civil liberties and voting rights. In 1952, she chaired the NAACP committee responsible for leading the effort to take legal action against Coney Island, in a successful attempt to desegregate the park after she was denied entrance based on her race. She served as a lifelong supporter and worker for the NAACP where much of her work was focused on public school desegregation. During her years with the Cincinnati NAACP, she served on the Executive Board as Chair of both the Legal Redress and Education committees, and, in 1981, she became the first female President of the local Cincinnati Chapter. Dr. Spencer also served as a member of the University of Cincinnati’s Board of Trustees, Chair of the Community Steering Committee for Indigent Defense, and President for the Women’s City Club and Links, Inc. She was elected in 1983 as the first Black Councilwoman for the Cincinnati City Council and was later named Vice-Mayor of the city.


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Marian Spencer and Rhonda Rivera

REflections on the advance of civil rights in Ohio--



It's too late for the thousands of children in Cleveland denied education by the GCP-controlled Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  So sad.  After taxpayers in Cleveland passed Issue 14 with the PROMISE to save their schools.

We're all sadly brainwashed. 


getworking January 14, 2011 at 6:05PM


A levy... right.

Here is something to chew on:

getworking January 14, 2011 at 10:38PM



Good ole Eugene, the savior of the cmsd

musagarvey January 15, 2011 at 12:28PM


@getnetoworking thanks for post that link to Col. Sanders AKA the Edu-marketer on MSNBC. A lot of people have been conned by this scam artist. According to that interview he is a "transformation specialist" huh he is a edu-marketer he uses marketing and communication to advance his own career w/ little regard to the end product (kids getting educated). Look no further than the CMSD website see the multiple pics in his glory, take a look at the yearly calenders that CMSD publishes and see the many staged photo shoots w/ Sanders "working" w. kids in schools, see the yearly "pep rally" held at the Quicken Loans arena in which school staff were a captive audience made to attend this glorified photo opt that was used to show how the masses were part of his "team of believers", and see any of many public "community" meetings in which everyone in attendance are CMSD salaried employees made to attend. Take a look at how he executed branding techniques changing the logo and name of Cleveland Schools. Then you can take a look at the specialized programming he put into effect at schools like John Hay, Stem School etc were they pick the best of the best to attend then point out the high achievement at these "resort" schools through which he implies that his system works. If he or his regime really wanted to show how talented they were they should have opened a school like Alexander Hamilton put in a specialized program and picked all of the students to attend the program via random lottery not via test scores. Then turn around these randomly picked schools into excellent students. Where are the specialized schools for students w/ behavioral/ academic issues (ie Phoenix Program)? The Col. sold the same half arse bag of goods to the people of Toledo then he bounced. So goes the story of the edu-marketeer


They never addressed lead poisoning in the CMSD

They never addressed lead poisoning in the CMSD - Sanders should go to jail for that. Little corporate tool... and huge fool!

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Positive Education Program

PEP is an industry

--warehousing our lead-poisoned children.  It's sad.

They ain't getting my kids!

They ain't getting my kids!

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"Save Taft Elementary: My plea for my daughters school"

"Save Taft Elementary: My plea for my daughters school" article in the January 18th issue of Street Vibes

by Nathan Lane on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 5:51pm

Here is a copy of my article about Taft Elementary that is in the January 18th issue of Street Vibes, a publication of the Greater Cincinnati Collation for the Homeless. Go get your copy from a vendor downtown today!

My plea for my daughter’s school

My pride and joy in this world is my 8-year-old daughter, Makayla. Anyone who knows me, hears me say her name on a routine basis. As a single parent, every decision I make takes her into account. So needless to say, I care a great deal about her education. Last spring, I transferred Makayla into Taft Elementary in Mt. Auburn from Fredrick Douglas Elementary in Walnut Hills (where I live) because of this concern for her education.

Taft Elementary has a STEM based curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that has proven to be a great fit for Makayla. Taft also happens to be the only K-8 STEM school in the country. In the past 3 years, the school has been moving in the right direction, with enrollment more than doubling from approximately 150 to nearly 350 students and the schools test scores drastically improving. According to the latest state report card, since switching to the STEM curriculum, Taft has improved from “Academic Emergency”, up two levels to “Continuous Improvement” this past year.

So imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox the week of Christmas and found a letter from Superintendent Mary Ronan. The letter informed me that Taft was doing so well… that the Cincinnati Board of Education (BOE) was proposing that it be closed down and that the students be split between Fredrick Douglas Elementary and Hughes High School. The BOE is proposing that the STEM curriculum be moved to Fredrick Douglas Elementary along with grades K-6, while grades 7-8 would be merged with Hughes High School.

I’m not sure where to start on the litany of problems in this proposal. First off, Taft Elementary was slated for a redesign and rebuild. All of the benchmarks that the BOE required Taft meet in order to stay open have been met. So it’s my position that not only should Taft stay open, it should get a new building based off of its performance the past several years.

Secondly, none of the teachers who have delivered the results at Taft, and who have the STEM training, will be guaranteed positions at either Fredrick Douglas Elementary or at Hughes High School. It will take time to get the staff at Fredrick Douglas trained in the STEM curriculum, and will thus be disruptive to the children’s education. My daughter has had enough disruption during the past few years.

Third off, I and many other parents actually pulled their children FROM Fredrick Douglas Elementary to put them into Taft. The situation is compounded for the parents of the magnet students at Taft as we have been given such short notice about this proposed change. It will be virtually impossible for us to find another school for our children in time for next school year. Why wasn’t this proposal made when parents would have enough time to choose another magnet school if Fredrick Douglas Elementary was not a satisfactory option for them?

The fourth problem is obvious, namely, how does the Cincinnati BOE propose fitting two K-6 schools into one building? And why do Walnut Hills and Mt. Auburn have to share an elementary school? Don’t they each deserve a school of their own? I maintain that they each do. We are in the midst of a success story at Taft Elementary and the BOE is about to make a huge mistake by shutting this school down. The success at Taft needs to be rewarded with a new school, or at the very least time to line up private funding for a new school building using a model like the School of Creative and Performing Arts and Walnut Hills High School.

So the question you may be asking right now is “So, what can I do?” For one thing, you can attend any of the upcoming Board of Education meetings. The BOE meets the second and fourth Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Meetings are held in the auditorium at the Education Center, 2651 Burnet Ave. in Corryville. You can also write letters to the BOE and to any local paper. There is also a “Save Taft Elementary” Facebook group if you want to stay updated with our efforts to save our school.

Taft Elementary PTO Vice-President and LSDMC representative Nathan Lane wrote this piece. The views expressed are solely his and not necessarily those of the Taft Elementary PTO or the Taft Elementary LSDMC.

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A Lead Abatement Certified Contractor yelled at me...

After he got all that wonderful Department of Health Training on how to "ABATE" Lead poisions for City of Cleveland Housing Contracts...he was well aware that sadly---even if you have already abated all the lead in a home---the dust particles are EVERYWHERE on the ground and that they are carried in your home, blown in your home (in the air), and that they permeate the entire City of Cleveland area... 

One day, that contractor saw me letting my child play in our back yard on the swings, running around without her shoes on, and hugging on our friend's dogs...He went ballistic telling me all kinds of stuff about Lead Poisoning. 

I had always presumed it was a "PAINT" issue... but he enightened me that LEAD is everywhere in our City and the best bet we have as parents is to get our kids away from it completely. Wish we could all afford to move out of town like he did with the money he earned from allegedly cleaning up the LEAD with those ENORMOUS CONTRACTS THROUGH CITY OF CLEVELAND DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENT AND CLEVELAND HOUSING NETWORK REHAB FUNDS...IT'S ALMOST COMICAL...




Always Appreciative, "ANGELnWard14"

There is no way the county would pay that

There is no way the county would pay that... they spend a few $1,000s tops now per house - in the past they may have spent up to $10,000-25,000 (I'm not sure what was the limit), which would be for straight window and door replacement and some painting of hazards - we've been through the process and know others who have as well.

Please do not misinform the public on government spending on lead poisoning eradication - so much misinformation out there about this it is disgusting... people seeing saving children as a waste of money makes me sick.

The primary issue with lead poisoning right now in Cleveland is with deteriorating paint and industrial hazards still emitting lead (including Burke and Hopkins airports) - it is the fault of the paint companies still in business and selling lead free paint now.. and citizens not demanding a better life for our children - the paint companies and their lawyers will fight with the public's lawyers rather than do the right things - the federal government and taxpayers have bailed the big corporate killers out as usual. Simple as that. It's a Koch Tea Party kinda deal.

Basic rules about living in a city with massive amounts of lead in the air, soil, schools and everywhere, like Cleveland - everyone should leave their outdoor shoes outside - wash hands, toys, etc. after touching anything that may be contaminated (cleaning, gardening, etc.) - get and use a hepa vac - wash all surfaces that may have lead contamination with several passes of clean water regularly.

At our house, we also removed the top layer of soil and put a layer of fresh mulch over our entire yard and have build up the yard and gardens with clean topsoil from outside the city, trucked in.

The owners of the yards and houses and power plant around us are not so thoughtful so we know we are constantly exposed to more dust - clean clean clean.

We are most contaminated by the abandoned house next to ours, which is owned by the irresponsible city of East Cleveland and is 4,000 square feet of biohazard.


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