City mourns death of civil rights leader at age 99

CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio city is mourning the passing of a longtime champion for civil rights.

A family friend says Marian Spencer has died at age 99. She had been in hospice care. Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, who is also publisher of The Cincinnati Herald, says Spencer died Tuesday evening.

The granddaughter of a former slave, the Gallipolis-born woman led a 1950s battle to desegregate the swimming pools at the Coney Island amusement park east of Cincinnati. In 1983, she became the first black woman elected to Cincinnati’s city council. She also was the first female president of the Cincinnati NAACP chapter and served on the University of Cincinnati board of trustees.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley ordered city flags flown at half-staff and said Wednesday: “Our city is better for her life.”