The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that Pittsburgh has lost a social justice champion.
On Nov. 8, 2019, Ann Floberg Mason passed away at the age of 74.
Mason was the vice president for the Edna B. McKenzie Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). She was also an active member of the Community of Reconciliation Church (COR) and the African American Historical and Genealogical Society of Pittsburgh (AAGHS), the Black Political Empowerment Project, the Black and White Reunion and many other organizations.
Born on June 26, 1945 in Rockford, Ill., Mason grew up in Lake Geneva, Wis. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in Southern Hadley, Mass., she became an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. This led her to volunteer in the housing projects of McKeesport, where she met her husband, Major Mason III. She would go on to receive a graduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and teach at Arlington Elementary School and Penn Circle Community High School.
Mason’s passion for education and assisting those in need was evident in her role as a volunteer for Beginning with Books, a literacy outreach program, her role as executive director of Hunger Services Network, and in her dedication to COR.
Reverend Chad Tanaka Pack fondly recalled Mason’s service: “Giving was so important to Ann’s faith…she gave of her time and talents to the church with the same dedication she gave of herself to other organizations she served.”
Mason was not only vice president for the Edna B. McKenzie Branch of ASALH; she was unwavering in her commitment to seeing the branch flourish and imparting the importance of African American history to diverse audiences. At the 97th annual ASALH convention, which was held in Pittsburgh, Mason served as a volunteer coordinator. Her savvy with recruiting and organizing attracted volunteers of diverse backgrounds from all over, ensuring that the conference ran smoothly.
In her role as vice president of ASALH, Mason went above and beyond her duties, filling in for multiple positions as needed. She kept track of memberships, actively recruited new members and public speakers, and assisted with promoting the branch at the national conferences and locally.
Ronald B. Saunders, president of the Edna B. McKenzie Branch of ASALH said, “Ann and Major were lifetime members of ASALH which shows their complete dedication to African American history and the Black experience in America.”
Saunders also remembered his colleague as someone who had boundless energy and was a hard worker. “Ann was my biggest cheerleader, motivator, and most importantly—friend. Everything I asked her to do in the context of holding two branch positions, she did in exemplary fashion.”
Alexis Clipper, secretary of the Edna B. McKenzie branch, remembered Mason as person with a kind spirit and as someone who was always focused on getting the job done. “From the first time I met Ann, she radiated joy and kindness. Ann made me feel comfortable and immediately put me to work. I am grateful for all that she taught me and for the opportunity to have served with her,” Clipper said.
A public memorial was held on Nov. 16 at the Community of Reconciliation Church in Oakland. The Edna B. McKenzie Branch of ASALH and Pittsburgh AAHGS held a joint memorial for Mason on Dec. 14, during the organization’s annual Carter G. Woodson birthday celebration.
Ann F. Mason is survived by her husband, Major Mason III, her son, Major Mason IV, her daughter, Arianna Mason, and a host of friends.
ANN FLOBERG MASON was the vice president for the local ASALH.
by Alonna J. Carter, For New Pittsburgh Courier