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The First Lady of Springfield Civil Rights Movement Turns 100!

Photo by Ed Cohen

May 27, 2014 -Springfield, MA- Ruth B. Loving was born on May 27, 1914 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. She is the youngest of seven children. In about 1918 her family moves to New Haven, Connecticut, to work in the Winchester gun factory making guns for the U.S. Army during WWI. About 1926, Ruth joins a fife and drum corps, at the Gregory Street School when she is in sixth grade. She plays the fife, and she is the only girl in her school to do so. Around this time she learns to play the organ and joins a youth choir.  In 1932 during the summer Ruth auditions to be a Cotton Club dancer in New York City. Because of the revealing costume, she dances only one performance; and

Ruth marries Minor Loving in 1935 and, soon after, the couple moves to Boston. He is working for a dry cleaning business that owns facilities throughout the region. In 1939, Minor is transferred to a dry cleaning business in Springfield. Ruth becomes member of the Springfield branch of the NAACP. She also obtains an entertainment license, for performing music and dance; Mid-1950s When Minor Jr., goes to Chester Street Junior High in Springfield, Ruth is shocked to learn that there is no Parent Teacher Association at the school. She goes to the city council to ask if they have the right to organize a PTA. As a result of her petition, the PTA is established. Ruth is elected its first president; and

At 100 years of age, Ruth B. Loving remains energized by her interests both past and present, and is referred to as the first lady of Springfield’s civil rights movement for her social activism over the years.  In the 1960s Dr. Loving served as president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and her founding of what was the Springfield Negro Post; and

Ruth B. Loving met Martin Luther King Jr. when he visit Springfield in 1965. She stated: “I’m 4 feet 11 inches and when I walked up to him the first thing that came out of my mouth was, ‘My goodness I’m almost as tall as you.  He laughed, and, in a very dignified voice, said well, we can’t all be tall.  He wasn’t magical. He was just an average man standing in front of me, but when he spoke he seemed 15 feet tall.”; and

Ruth B. Loving has been a resident of Springfield since the 1940s, Loving has been a long-time advocate for the rights of senior citizens. She was a delegate to the White House Council on Aging under President Council.  Loving is on the board of Springfield Council on Aging and has served as president of the African-American Senior Activity Center committee.

Ruth B. Loving was among the neighborhood residents who fought for the reopening of the Mason Square library in 2011. Since 1969, Loving has been working in radio. She is the long-time host of the talk show “Spotlight on Springfield” on WMAS-AM and FM. She hopes to resume the show later this year as well as resume writing for the newspaper, Point of View.

On Tuesday, May 27, 2014 Dr. Ruth Loving B. Loving was honored with a proclamation by Mayor Domenic J. Sarno declaring the day in her honor.  


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Page last updated:  Tuesday, June 03, 2014 11:22 am