Marjorie Parham, publisher emerita of the Cincinnati Herald, died on Wednesday, Apr. 14. She was 103 years old.
The Cincinnati Herald is an award-winning weekly African-American newspaper founded in 1955 by Gerald Porter, when previous African-American newspapers in Cincinnati had ceased publication. After Porter’s death in a traffic accident in 1963, his widow Parham, with her son, Bill Spillers, took over the publication; after the offices of the Herald were firebombed in 1994 — a crime that was never solved — she put out the paper on time the following week. She sold the Herald in 1996 to Sesh Communications, which publishes several tristate area African-American weeklies and a monthly magazine. The Cincinnati Herald focuses on news about and of interest to the Cincinnati Black community.
Parham was born in Batavia, Ohio in 1918 and attended Wilberforce University (an HBCU), the University of Cincinnati, and Chase School of Business. In an interview in 2005, she cited pressure not to pursue the business career she wanted as her reason for leaving college without graduating. She worked for the Veterans Administration from 1946 until she retired in 1961, taking over the African-American Dayton Tribune, when her son, who had been running it, was drafted into the Army.
Parham was recognized as a civil rights icon. She was known for asking hard questions and for providing a space for the African American community to tell their own stories and to read news not published in other media. She was a trustee of the University of Cincinnati (the second African American in that position) and chair of the board of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, OH.
Parham was the recipient of many honors in her lifetime: among them, the Trailblazer Award from the National Association of Black Journalists (1993), the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame (1999), the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame (2013), and “A Great Living Cincinnatian” from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (2007); at her 100th birthday party, her awards filled two tables. In February 2020, on her 102nd birthday, Lincoln Avenue in Walnut Hills, Cincinnati, was renamed Marjorie Parham Way.