Marian Small, mother of Perri Small, Talk Show Host at WVON Radio, died recently and is mourned by educators, former students, family and friends. Her services will be held on Wednesday, August 10 at 10:00 a.m. at St. John De LaSalle Catholic Church at 10205 South King Drive, in Chicago.
She was born September 23, 1932 in Chicago to Fletcher and Raymond Morris. She was their only child. Marian grew up in Bronzeville at 4848 South Michigan after her mother died when she was 16 with her mother’s sister, Clay. Born into the Baptist faith, Marian converted to Catholicism to marry Allen Hilaire Small. They had two children Perri and Allen Conrad. Allen C and Allen H. preceded her in death.
Marian was always a gifted student and excelled in her studies. But Marian would graduate from Chicago Teachers College (now Chicago State University). She was a master teacher in Chicago Public Schools and the Archdiocese. In January 1969, she received the Kate Maremont Foundation Most Dedicated Teacher in the City of Chicago Award. She was the first African American to do so. During that turbulent era where social change was on the horizon, Marian would transform the lives of students from Ulysses Grant, a west side public school where most of her pupils were poor, living in neglected west side Chicago Housing Developments. She took her fifth grade students to the nation’s Capitol when many had never ventured to the Chicago Loop.
In a Chicago Defender article announcing she had been selected for the honor out of two hundred nominees, the judges cited “her deep personal concern and love for her students and her ability to establish lasting relationships with them and their parents.
“And for helping to instill in each child a sense of identity and self-respect and for developing in each child an awareness of his own potential and ability to perform not only academically but as a whole human being.”
After 19 years, Marian left the Chicago Public schools and started teaching at her children’s elementary school, St. Joachim, for many years and ended her career at Hales Franciscan High School. Hales held a special place in her heart and she was committed to guiding black boys “Unto perfect manhood.”
Marian was always everyone’s favorite teacher and a favorite mom.
Marian is survived by her daughter, Perri Small; a sister, Angela Wiley; a brother, Carl Morrow; nephew, William Butler and two great nieces Aaliyah Renee and Tania and a host of grateful students and colleagues across the country.