Aurora Reading Club celebrates 115 years

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Fifty years ago, the Aurora Reading Club could not have celebrated at the Longue Vue Club in Verona. On Oct. 17, more than 200 gathered at his beautiful club to mark the 115-year anniversary of the Aurora Reading Club. Rachel Jones, Frances Golden, Hannah Lovett, Anna Posey, Virginia Proctor and Cora Washington founded the club in 1894.

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LUNCHEON COMMITTEE AND KEYNOTE SPEAKER —Thelma Morris, Mildred Morrison (luncheon co-chair), Inez Miles, Leon Haley, Mary Page, Margaret Burley and Shirley H. Golden.

It is the oldest African-American Women’s Club in western Pennsylvania. The intent of the six charter members was to promote literacy, when higher education seemed an impossibility for women, particularly women of color.

On this chilly afternoon members and friends talked, mingled and dined on tournedos of beef and pesto crusted salmon. Aurora members, led by pianist Ruth Ritchey, sang the Aurora Club song composed by Maudelena Johnson. The ladies and gents were then introduced to the keynote speaker, Leon Haley, Ph.D., by Sharon Jarrett-Brown. Haley has written several publications prior to the completion of his first book, “From the Staunton to the Allegheny: The Journey of an African-American Family.”

Haley says he started his book by putting together his family tree information for a family reunion. He went on to say his story is not unique, many families could tell the story of overcoming racism, slavery, Jim Crowism and trying to carve out a living in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. Haley is currently working on his second book entitled “The Quiet One: Biography of General Roscoe Robinson Jr.”

He said we need to tell the journeys of African-Americans we stand on the shoulders of giants. In addition to his writings he has served in many capacities of leadership that include the Pittsburgh Urban League and the University of Pittsburgh where he is professor emeritus in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

As a fitting favor each guest received a journal so they could continue to record their history. The celebration concluded with special presentations to Haley and Ritchey, daughter of Maudelena Johnson. Signed copies of Haley’s book were available at the end of the luncheon.

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