Life In Baltimore: Leah’s Book Club honors women in the community


— Leah’s Book Club was organized in February, 1998 by Leah Goldsborough Hasty for like-minded readers to get together to discuss books—particularly those by African American authors. The book club would meet regularly and avail itself of many opportunities in the literary world, such as attending lectures sponsored by the Enoch Pratt Library and inviting authors to attend meetings.

Baltimore Attorney A. Dwight Pettit signing his book.

(Courtesy Photo/Conley Enterprises)

Baltimore Attorney A. Dwight Pettit signing his book.

Beginning in 2000, each December the club began to host a holiday high tea with invited friends and the volunteer discussant, Irene Bennett Reid, an avid reader and charter member of Leah’s Book Club who delighted the membership and audiences with her review of the books.

In 2011, Leah’s Book Club thought it fitting to honor Irene’s memory with the Irene Bennett Reid Memorial Tea during National Women’s History Month. Each year the club members honor and recognize women who have made and continue to make contributions to their communities and those who embody the same spirit and concern for the welfare of others as Irene demonstrated throughout her career. Since 2011, more than sixty women have been honored.

The author/speaker at this year’s tea was Attorney A. Dwight Pettit who discussed his book “Under the Color Of Law: The Story of An American Family” and signed books after the program. Past speakers have been Taylor Branch, Antero Pietila and Larry Gibson.

The program was chaired by Alice Shelton, readings were given Irene’s grandchildren—Jewel Young and Jeremiah Young. The 2015 honorees were Marietta English; Bettye Fitzgerald; Dr. Alison Glascoe; Joy Grandison; Bonnie Green; Shauna K. Henson; Gwendolyn Howard; Ernestine Jones Jolivet; The Honorable Verna Jones- Rodwell; Dr. Patricia L. Welch; Charlotte Makle Williams and Minister Patricia Yeargin.

Each honoree was escorted to the podium by their sponsor to receive a certificate and gifts.

When the honorees were asked their thoughts on receiving this recognition, the responses were “surprised and humbled.”

Honoree Minister Patricia Yeargin said, “I was surprised, very humble ad appreciative of the fact that someone paid attention to me. As a social worker in the school system working with students, parents and staff, you’re not always recognized. This honor encourages me to continue my work as a social worker and minister.”

Minister Yeargin uses the African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” She includes it in her work as she partners with parents and community to work with children. Not seeking accolades, Minister Yeargin loves people and lives by, “The Lord is my life and my salvation, whom shall I fear.”

In response to the question, Honoree Bettye Fitzgerald said, “We are put on this earth to help others. Whatever I’ve done in my lifetime, I’ve done because I wanted to help a neighbor, family, friend and community, never looking for a reward.”

The ladies in Leah’s Book Club are committed to highlighting women in the community and providing an audience for authors to discuss their books at the annual Irene Bennett Reid Memorial Tea.

Members of Leah’s Book Club are Lorna Brice; Lorraine Brown; Dr. Brenda Conley; Merita Donaldson; Juanita Edgerton; Dr. Lead Hasty; Dr. Brenda Bowe Johnson; Bennie Keene; Dorothy Marshall; Marilyn McDonald; Evelyn Moore; Edna Y. Rich; Cassandra Ross; Alice Shelton; Dr. Louise Smith Margaret Smith; Claudette Swain; and Beaulah Wallace.