Mrs. Marjorie B. Parham (seated in front in pink pants), surrounded by family and friends, braves the cold as Councilmembers Wendell Young, PG Sittenfeld, and Greg Landsman rename Lincoln Avenue “Marjorie Parham Way” on Feb. 12, 2020, her 102nd birthday. Photo by Casey Weldon/City of Cincinnati
By Herald Staff
Lincoln Avenue in Walnut Hills has been renamed “Marjorie Parham Way” to honor the widow of the founder of The Cincinnati Herald. Councilmembers Wendell Young and P.G. Sittenfeld sponsored a resolution to rename the street, and Cincinnati City Council unanimously approved. They chose the site because Mrs. Parham operated The Cincinnati Herald out of a building located at 863 Lincoln Avenue before selling the publication to Sesh Communications in 1996.
Councilmembers Young and Sittenfeld first announced the street renaming at the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual convention, held in Cincinnati last June. At the gala where presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner were the guest speakers, the NNPA bestowed the Lifetime Legacy Award on Parham in celebration of her service to the Black press.
Mrs. Parham has received a number of accolades for her community and Civil Rights advocacy, including being named A Great living Cincinnatian by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. Now, the Herald publisher emerita has a Cincinnati street named after her.
Marjorie B. Parham was born in 1918 in Clermont County, Ohio. She graduated from Batavia High School and went to Wilberforce University, an HBCU. She later took classes at the University of Cincinnati, but she never graduated from college because she was getting pushed away from what she wanted to do. She wanted a business career. She married William Spillers and produced a son, but she was single again by 1946 and took a job as a clerk with the U.S. Veterans Administration in Cincinnati.
In 1954, she wed Gerald Porter, who a year later founded The Cincinnati Herald, a weekly newspaper dedicated to advocating for and giving a voice to African Americans. In 1961, Parham retired from the Veterans Administration to take over the Dayton Tribune, which her son had been running until he was drafted by the U.S. military.
In 1963, Gerald Porter was in a car accident. After a hospital refused to treat him, he was taken to another hospital but it was too late, and he died from injuries suffered in the car accident. Parham took over as publisher and editor of The Cincinnati Herald after the unexpected death of her husband.
She called a friend at the White House and had her son, William Spillers, Jr. discharged from the army so that he could return to Cincinnati and help her run the newspaper.
Parham spent more than three decades at the helm of The Cincinnati Herald and became a respected figure in the Greater Cincinnati community through both her newspaper work and her involvement in numerous civic organizations. She was known to be outspoken against injustice.
In 1982, she became the second African American ever to serve as a trustee of the University of Cincinnati, and she also chaired the board of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio. She was active in the Urban League, the American Red Cross and scouting groups.
Most of all, she made sure that The Cincinnati Herald served the African American community. At age 102, Marjorie Parham remains the newspaper’s publisher emerita.
Donna Jones Baker contributed to this story.