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Commemorative Street Names
Stolp Avenue between Galena Boulevard and Downer Place
The City of Aurora has a rich history in the musical genre known as the “blues”. A number of America’s most famous blues composers and musicians performed and recorded legendary songs in Aurora between May 1937, and December 1938. They include John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, Yank Rachell, Robert Lee McCoy, Washboard Sam, and Bill “Jazz” Billium. They recorded for Bluebird Records/RCA Victor in the Sky Club at Leland Tower (7 S. Stolp Avenue). Sonny Boy Williamson, a songwriter and performer, became widely accepted as the single most influential blues harmonica player of his day and possibly all time.
Dr. Bishop William Haven Bonner
Pond Avenue name change to Bonner Avenue
Bonner Avenue was named after Dr. Bishop William Haven Bonner in 1980 to recognize his contributions to his church and community. Bishop Bonner is Pastor of the Mount Olive Church of God in Christ, and also the dean of Aurora Black ministers. Under his leadership, Mount Olive Church broke ground in 1948, and was substantially expanded over the years. In addition, Bishop Bonner serves his church nationwide as the Chairman of Finance and Vice-Chairman of the Budgetary Committee of the Board of Bishops of the International Churches of God in Christ.
Dr. Lloyd A. Hall
Beach Street between Claim Street and Delius Street
During Dr. Hall’s thirty-five year tenure as Chief Chemist and Director of Research at Griffith Laboratories, he was a pioneer in food science, and obtained 27 patents for food processing. During World War II, Dr. Hall served as Chief Inspector of Powder and Explosives and was a member of the Committee on Food Research of the Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Hall graduated in the top ten of his class at East Aurora High School in 1912 when there were only five other African-Americans in the school. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Northwestern University in 1916.
Vernon Louis Parrington Drive
Highland Avenue between Kensington and Galena Boulevard
Vernon Louis Parrington was born in the house on the northeast corner of Highland Avenue and Garfield Avenue. He went on to become one of the leading intellectuals of his day, and won a Pulitzer Prize for History in 1928 for his book, “Main Currents in American Thought”.
Reverend Oliver Shackelford Jr. Memorial Way
Sumner Avenue between New York Street and Grand Boulevard
Rev. Shackelford gave a lifetime commitment in service to his congregation, community and the people of Aurora. He was instrumental in promoting ongoing interracial relations and understanding. Rev. Shakelford earned his Divinity Degree and served as Pastor of Main Street Baptist Church for over 45 years.
Reverend Robert Wesby
Lincoln Avenue between New York Street and Galena Boulevard
Rev. Wesby founded the Progressive Baptist Church in 1963. This church is an outgrowth of Main Baptist Church, the mother church of all other Black Baptist churches in Aurora.
Marie Wilkinson Boulevard
View Street between Illinois Avenue and Plum Street
Marie Wilkinson helped to launch more than 60 charitable organizations in Aurora including Feed the Hungry Program, Hesed House Homeless Shelter, and the Aurora Human Relations Commission which hears complaints of discrimination. Wilkinson gained local prominence in the civil rights movement, and raised $12,000 for the cause. When refused a seat at an Aurora diner in the 1950s, it was Wilkinson who won her case before the Illinois Supreme Court Born Marie LeBeau in New Orleans, Wilkinson studied business at the now defunct Straight College. She settled in Aurora at age 20, where she was married to Charles Wilkinson for more than 60 years.
Prentiss Thompson Avenue
Gillette Avenue between Florida and Illinois Avenues
This area was designated as honorary “Prentiss Thompson Avenue” after the founding member and officer of Aurora Community Study Circles, an organization aimed at improving race relations in Aurora.
Pastor Dr. Dezo McGill Avenue
Kane and Loucks Street
For his dedication to living on this block through its violence and hardships, and for his role in making it the better place it is today, the area of Loucks Street between New York and Kane Streets has been named “Pastor Dr. Dezo McGill Avenue”.