Marjorie Spencer Gaddy
This year for black history I decided to honor a person every day of the month of February. I intended to highlight famous black dancers but then I realized I wanted to get a little more personal. So I am honored individuals who have helped to shaped me into the person, dancer, educator that I am. Who better to start with than my mom.
Marjorie Spencer was born 1929, one month before the stock market crashed. Her mom, 17 and her dad, 25 - both were from North Carolina. Her mom's parents had been sharecroppers in North Carolina. After working as a coal miner in PA, her mothers father sent for his family to come to Newark, NJ where she was born. Once the depression hit, everyone lost their jobs so the family moved to Harlem. My mom grew up in Harlem and attended all segregated schools with all white teachers. (Some still wanted to believe segregated schools were only in the south) While in Jr. high, her mother pushed for her to go to Hunter College High School hoping it would lead to acceptance into Hunter College. My mom was a bright student but her teachers discouraged her from applying. One teacher told her, “Their standards are too high for our girls to ever hope to reach” Despite the discouragement, my mom took the test , passed it and went to Hunter College High School and then Hunter College graduating Suma Coumbe Laude as a biology major and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She holds a Masters in Reading and taught for
over 30 years in NYCDOE. She won a Ford foundation fellowship in 1968 in school administration and supervision. She holds a Professional diploma in school administration from Fordham University. She retired as an elementary school principal from P.S. 81 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She later enjoyed working as an adjunct professor at Nassau Community College and Hofstra University.
My love for education came from my mom so today on this first day of Black History month, I celebrate her and her perseverance despite the many adversities of life. I am an educator because of her. I dance because she always taught me to push, do my best and never give up.