Melvin Witherspoon

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Mel Witherspoon came to Erie on a Gannon basketball scholarship.  With 537 points and 522 rebounds in just two seasons, Witherspoon earned a revered place in the school’s program.  In 1995, Mr. Witherspoon became the first African American elected to Erie City Council since 1977, taking the oath of office symbolically from predecessor Larry D. Meredith.  Witherspoon’s civic contributions are many and varied, but he is perhaps best remembered for the summer youth basketball program he established in 1990.  In 2015 he was honored with the naming of a portion of East 19th Street between French and Holland, “Witherspoon Lane.”  Lane was not a happenstance choice, given its importance in the game, Witherspoon’s legendary career as a basketball center, and his impact on the lives of generations of city youth.  “Mel has done so many important things here in this community over the past 25 years. He has made a difference in so many young people’s lives, so we thought this was a fitting tribute so his legacy will be remembered by young people to come,” said Mayor, Joe Sinnott.

← Back to Pioneers, Community Builders, & Freedom Fighters