In celebration of Black History Month, Classic Events saluted businesses that have operated within the city of Pittsburgh for more than 50 years. Businesses included the New Pittsburgh Courier, Pryor Furs, Strong’s Dry Cleaners, Dorsey’s Records, Jones Printing, Bob Watson Plumbing and LJS Publishing.
Heroes and sheroes of the Civil Rights struggle were also recognized. Living honorees were Alma Speed Fox and the Honorable Robert L. Pitts. The late Harvey Adams and Bernard H. Jones were also recognized.
“It is an honor to be recognized,” said Denise Jones of Jones Printing, expressing the same sentiments as her neighbors Eric Strong and Neil Dorsey.
“When someone recognizes you for what you have been doing, it’s a compliment,” Dorsey said.
One in a series of seven events Ralph P. Watson, of Classic Events plans to sponsor this year, he said he would be negligent if he had not kicked off the series for the year honoring the accomplishments and contributions made by the honorees.
“We have a strong and rich history here, businesses that have made a difference throughout the world, like the New Pittsburgh Courier that we have to say thank you to and honor,” he said.
The New Pittsburgh Courier, has served as the voice of truth for African-Americans as far back as 1910, throughout the Civil Rights Movement to now. Once the most widely circulated Black newspaper in the country, it had an employee base of 350 and was circulated in 14 cities. Many of the 20th century’s most influential Black journalists and intellectuals contributed articles, columns, and editorials to the paper. Robert L. Vann led the paper from 1910 through 1940. Rod Doss is the current editor and publisher.
Since 1954 Pryor furs has been operating from its 2435 Centre Ave. location. Founded in 1947 by William Pryor Sr., three generations later the business still maintains the reputation of creating and designing fur apparel for customers throughout the region and beyond. The business services also consist of cleaning and storage.
Strong’s Dry Cleaners originated in North Carolina in the 1930s and later migrated to the Mon Valley area. It is now located at 7620 Frankstown Avenue, the former site of Trowers Cleaners which began operating in the 1940s. Since acquiring Trowers in 1991, Eric C. Strong, the third generation owner of the business has been working to continue its mission to provide absolute quality, one stop fabric care at affordable prices with consummate customer service.
The largest African-American owned music store in Pittsburgh, Dorsey’s Record Shop and Computer Service was established in 1946 as Dorsey Radio. Original services were retail sales of recorded music and repair service of wind-up phonographs and radios. Services later expanded to fixing car radios, black and white televisions, color TV’s, stereos, VCR’s and CD Players. Progressing into the technology and digital age, today Dorsey’s is known for repairing personal computers and laptops and offering an extensive digital imaging service. Located at 7614 Frankstown Ave. for 65 years, the business is now operating into its third generation.
Jones Printing owned and operated by Denise Jones and Brittee Clay has been a staple in the East End community since 1948. Throughout its history it has been located in the Lincoln/Larimer community on Frankstown Avenue, Penn Avenue in Point Breeze and now 7628 Frankstown Ave. in Homewood. A full-service printing business and sharing the block with two other well established historical businesses, Jones says, “We’re glad to be a part of the community and after 60 years of business striving to continue the legacy of providing good service.”
Luther and Roxanne Sewell are known throughout the Commonwealth for their statewide Pennsylvania African-American Network Convention, but locally they are famous for Talk Magazine. In 1962 the business started with the publication of Tavern Talk. Since then the business has evolved into The LJS Group and has developed and produced the African-American Jazz Weekend and the Minority Achiever’s Luncheon. Throughout the 47-year life of the company, LJS has participated and managed more than 25 political campaigns; and acted as a special marketing consultant, analyst, organizer and planner for major corporations and public institutions interested in reaching the African-American consumer market.
Known for his work ethics, Robert “Bob” Watson of Watson Plumbing and Heating is an off shoot of the Harvey Brown and Bob Watson Plumbing and Remodel partnership. An avid reader, Watson studied his craft and maintained the philosophy that his work was like his signature and was a direct reflection of him.
“Through this Black History Networking Mixer, the goal was to recognize and give appreciation to icons who have set the standard as leaders and shining examples in the areas of business and civil rights,” Watson said. “People like Mrs. Fox and Misters Pitts, Adams and Jones have woven many threads throughout the quilt that defines the African-American historical experience in Pittsburgh. Like the quilt their history laced stories and experiences are filled with struggle and sacrifice.”
Classic Events is a public relations, marketing and networking group committed to hosting community-based events designed to introduce and connect a variety of businesses and organizations to the diverse business markets.