Cambridge Icon, Saundra Graham, Passes Away

Cambridge Icon, Saundra Graham, Passes Away
Posted on 07/01/2023
Dear CPS Community:

It is with a heavy heart that I reflect on the recent passing of Saundra Graham, the namesake, along with Rosa Parks, of our Graham & Parks school. We have lost a transformational leader and civil rights activist who was pivotal in shaping the City of Cambridge’s history.

Graham, who was born in Cambridge in the 1940s, attended public schools in the city, the University of Massachusetts, and Harvard University Extension. Graham first gained international attention in 1970 when she led a march and disrupted a Harvard University commencement to bring attention to a dorm expansion that would have displaced the longtime residents of Riverside. Because of her action, Harvard acknowledged the issue publicly and later built family and senior housing complexes. Graham went on to champion affordable housing in the city for years.

The first black woman elected to City Council, Graham served from 1971 until 1989, two of those years as Vice Mayor. Graham’s commitment to public service led her to receive several awards, including the 1976 National Sojourner Truth Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc., the 1980 Recognition Award by the Central Square Cambridge Businessmen's Association, and the 1982 "Woman of the Year" in government award by the Boston Chapter of the National Organization for Women. Our Graham & Parks School was named after her and Parks in 1981.

Graham was a formidable force and we will continue to honor her legacy, which has left an indelible imprint on our city, state, and countless individuals.


Victoria L. Greer, Superintendent
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