• 'My race, my gender was transcended:' A discussion with Framingham's first mayor

    By: Crystal Haynes


    FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - Women, especially women of color, made history in elections across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts last year.

    Framingham voters elected their first mayor ever: an African-American science teacher who knew a thing or two about being the first.

    “My race, my gender was transcended by the fact that they believed in me to lead this city,” Mayor Yvonne Spicer said. 

    It was a history making election as Framingham residents were choosing a mayor for the first time since the town was founded in 1700. 

    And it was a history maker who won the seat. 

    “I always had a curiosity of how things work and ultimately went on to study architecture in high school and went on to study technology education … and that was something to that was important to me,” she told Boston 25 News. 

    Doctor Yvonne Spicer in her new office just a couple weeks on the job and one snow storm under her belt.

    But her story began in Brooklyn, New York when she was a little girl who loved to take things apart. 

    “I was probably about 7 years old and took apart the blender and I was fascinated how what was causing those blades to move around,” she explained. 

    At 6 years old, Mayor Spicer had a life defining moment meeting congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. It set the tone for a lifetime of trailblazing.

    “This woman made social justice for women -- rights for women -- fashionable way before they were,” Spicer said. “And the fact that she was the first woman to ever run for president is pretty remarkable. Fast forward, and here I am.”

    As a black woman in STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - she was almost a statistical anomaly. According a 2011 census report, six percent of all U.S. STEM workers were African-American. Almost none of them were women. 

    Mayor Spicer credits her family and mentors for always encouraging her.

    “They’ve given me not only the tools to say, ‘move forward,’ but they’ve also given me the permission to say, ‘yes you can,’” she said. 

    Before she was the first mayor, she was the first African-American female technology director for Framingham schools. She was the first black woman director at the Museum of Science and she was one of the first appointed to the inaugural Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council. 

    Mayor Spicer told Boston 25 News it’s young women today marching, and running for office who are her true inspiration. 

    “That’s the new leadership. That’s the new way, in which young women -- they’re not afraid to jump out and take a chance. And I’m excited about that,” She said. 

    As advice for future leaders, she simply said: be humble, be mentored and volunteer; there's always something you can give.

    MORE: 'Sympathy, care and respect': A conversation with Boston's first black police chief

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