Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and to honor the life of an extraordinary leader and passionate advocate for freedom and justice, Ms. Patricia Spencer.
Growing up in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1930s, Patricia Spencer followed in her mother and grandmother’s footsteps becoming a member of the NAACP at the age of seven, a group which she was still a member 72 years later. At the age of nineteen, while serving as secretary of the local NAACP branch, Ms. Spencer received the news that her mentor on the NAACP Youth Council, Rosa Parks, was arrested while riding the Montgomery bus. Ms. Spencer immediately started churning out fliers urging others to boycott the bus. During this time Ms. Spencer also babysat Yolanda King, the first eldest child of Martin Luther King Jr.
Ms. Spencer attended Alabama State University and then moved to Orlando, FL to take a position as an operator with Southern Bell, the first African American to hold this position. From there she moved to Detroit and served 13 years on local school board. In recognition of her service to the Detroit area, the Martin Luther King Jr. High School Auditorium and the swimming facility at Charles Kettering High School bear her name. In the mid 1990s she moved to the Tampa, FL. Once settled in she immediately started to volunteer with the Hillsborough NAACP branch, were she used her vast knowledge of the organizations rules to mentor members and secure funding for the branch. She served as Membership Chair and Area Director for the NAACP’s state conference as well as Secretary of the Hillsborough County branch. She will forever be remembered for her constant efforts to boost NAACP membership.
As a notable NAACPer, Ms. Spencer also co-chaired the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technologic and Scientific Olympics. This program recruits high school students to compete in science and visual arts competitions. Though she gave countless hours to the organization as a volunteer, she still had time to serve others. She was affiliated with other local organizations as well. At WUSF Radio Reading Service, she was a reader for the visually impaired listeners tuned in to the station. She was a Board Member of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI-USF), a non-degree seeking program at the University of South Florida and she also served on the Board of the Early Learning Coalition. The American Red Cross was one of her favorite charities and she was the Vice President of Sisters Network, Inc., Tampa Chapter. She also was Chair of the Hillsborough County Public Schools–School Choice Committee.
In 2007, Governor Charlie Crist appointed her as a member of the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board.
Ms. Spencer will be forever remembered as a leader in the Tampa Bay community for her unequivocal support of justice and fairness. On December 14th, 2015, she passed away two days following her 79th birthday. Mr. Speaker, I join the Tampa Bay community in honoring Ms. Patricia Spencer for her lifelong commitment to service.
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