Hearing Hidden Voices is a three-part Hear Together series committed to amplifying voices in our community, even when the spotlight has been turned off. Each profile highlights the work of a different Lynchburg native whose tenacity made seminal strides in the fight for inclusion and equality of the Black community in our area — and beyond.
Located in the Pierce Street District in Lynchburg, The Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum honors the contributions of Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer. But it also tells the story of another historical figure: her son, Chauncey. With an affinity for flight and a desire to serve his country, Chauncey Spencer became one of the pioneers of aviation. In 1934, he left his hometown of Lynchburg for Chicago, and joined a group of African American pilots in the National Airmen Association of America (NAAA). Inspired by a meeting with Spencer and fellow NAAA member Dale Lawrence White, President Truman signed an executive order integrating the U.S. airforce in 1948 — an action that paved the way for the Tuskegee Airmen. Spencer’s flight suit is now on display at the Smithsonian.
Recorded live from the stage of the Historic Academy of Music Theatre, we spoke with Chauncey’s daughter, Shaun Spencer Hester, for this Hear Together profile. You can learn more about Chauncey Spencer here.