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Marian Spencer Honored With First Named Woman's Statue In Cincinnati

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Cory Sharber
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WVXU
People gather around the Marian A. Spencer Statue as it's unveiled at Smale Riverfront Park.

Civil rights icon Marian Spencer was honored with the first named woman's statue in Cincinnati on Sunday at Smale Riverfront Park.

The statue was unveiled in front of hundreds of guests paying tribute to Spencer, who was the first African American woman elected to Cincinnati City Council and the first woman to head the local chapter of the NAACP.

Event emcee Courtis Fuller paid tribute to Spencer during his opening speech calling her a woman of many firsts, saying thanks to a "Queen of Our City."

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Credit Cory Sharber / WVXU
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WLWT Anchor/Reporter Courtis Fuller emceed the Spencer Statue unveiling on June 27, 2021.

"No one except God Almighty could know how Marian Alexander Spencer would change this city and really, change the world over the next 99 years," Fuller said.

Marian Spencer's son, Edward, nearly didn't attend due to travel concerns involving COVID-19, but says "Blood drew me here." He talked about his mother's courage and the strength she gave to others.

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Credit Cory Sharber / WVXU
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WVXU
Despite travel concerns due to COVID-19, Edward Spencer made the trip from California to pay tribute to his mother in Cincinnati

"When people ask me about my mother, I want to tell them but I rarely do, that she was someone who allowed herself to give agency to purpose," Spencer said.

Local leaders also paid tribute to Spencer during the dedication, including Hamilton County Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas, speaking about the doors she opened for the community.

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Credit Cory Sharber / WVXU
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Hamilton Co. Commission Presiden Stephanie Summerow Dumas discussed the opportunities Spencer created for her and many others throughout the region.

"Being the first is not easy," Summerow Dumas said. "It allows you to be a trailblazer and to open up opportunities for others. It's clear as black and white for me that me being the president and being on the commission after 223 years of not having an African-American, she had something to do with this."

The Women's Club of Cincinnati collected private donations to pay for the statue. Work to install it began in December 2020. The original plan was for the statue to be installed in June 2020, but this was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is located near the Labyrinth at Smale Riverfront Park.

The sculpture was designed by artists Tom Tsuchiya and Gina Erardi. Tsuchiya's other works include statues of Reds players featured outside Great American Ball Park, the statue of Jesus at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, and Joe Nuxhall in Fairfield.

The dedication took place the day before Spencer's 101st birthday. Spencer died in 2019 at the age of 99.