Jack and Jill – Cincinnati

About Us

In February 1953, Mary Evelyn LaNier and Mary Woods gathered together a group of Cincinnati Mothers interested in working together to best improve the lives of their children by creating a medium or a familiar conduit for educational, civic and social development. They worked diligently to complete all the necessary charter paperwork and a provisional chapter was formed on March 14, 1953. In December of that same year, the Cincinnati Chapter became the 51st local chapter to be chartered into Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The organization was founded with 33 mothers and 60 children. Today, there are 51 active Member Mothers, and 91 children.

In the early days of the local chapter, service was a key focal point. The organization contributed over $1,000.00 to the Polio Fund, was an active member of the NAACP, participated in the Freedom March of the 1960's and routinely volunteered services to the "Community Chest", now the United Way. Families enjoyed a variety of actives including day trips to Seven Caves, a horse farm, museums, bowling, ice-skating, and even a lamp-making project under the direction of Cincinnati Gas and Electric Company. Marian Spencer recalls hosting a Mid-Western Regional Teen Conference event at her North Avondale home in 1957- the last year Cincinnati hosted the Regional Teen Conference. Now age 86, Marian Spencer says, "Jack and Jill was a very important organization for the development of those teenagers. It helped them develop a sense of self, who they were, where they were going and why."

The year before the Cincinnati Chapter of Jack and Jill was chartered, several future Jack and Jill members, fought to desegregate the local amusement park Coney Island. Those individuals included future charter member Marian Spencer, who later became a Cincinnati City Councilwoman, and Vice Mayor of Cincinnati. Says Mrs. Spencer, "This was all part of the effort led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. out of the south, for blacks to gain access to public facilities."

Negro children were not allowed to swim at Sunlite Pool at Coney Island, nor enjoy the amusement park. The mothers, with the help of attorneys from the NAACP national offices, fought to get the park open to all children.

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