Tag: Macon Ga

Freaknik Lawyer Herald As Role Model By Macon Audience

By Michael September 24, 2019 2

 “I was not sure of the reception from my hometown,” Harold Michael Harvey, author of  Freaknik Lawyer, said. He had just finished reading a passage from his memoir to a gathering of Maconites at the historic Douglass Théâtre.

Harvey’s memoir on the craft of resistance is an intimate portrayal of his life coming of age in Macon, first during Jim Crow, and later during integration. read more

Book Launch at Historic Douglass Theatre in Macon

By Michael September 1, 2019 0

Cascade Publishing House is pleased to announce the book launch date for the memoir of Harold Michael Harvey, Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance.

The historic Douglass Theatre in Harvey’s hometown, Macon, Georgia, will serve as the venue for the book launch party on September 21, 2019, from 6:00 pm-9 pm. The public is invited to come out and greet its native son. read more

Lonzy Edwards Talented and Faithful

By Michael April 30, 2016 0

Lonzy Edwards by any measure was talented and faithful. He came to the Macon community in the late 1970s after completing law school at Duke University. When he arrived he was anointed by the State Bar of Georgia to practice law and was ordained by God to practice his faith in the community of humankind.

Combining the law and the gospel made Lonzy Edwards uniquely qualified for a leadership role in Macon’s Black community. Prior to Edwards’ arrival, the leadership in the Black community  (except for the leadership offered by William P. Randall), was serviced by men of the gospel, but none had been trained in the secular law like Lonzy Edwards.

At that time, Macon’s most charismatic Black leader was the Rev. Julius C. Hope, who pastored the First Baptist Church and was largely thought of as an “outside agitator” by the Macon business establishment. Edwards arrived just as Rev. Hope was leaving Macon for a post in New York with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as their National Director of Religious Affairs.

When Edwards set up his law practice in downtown Macon, race relations were at a pivotal point. The city had chartered a new course dismantling its alderman form of government for a strong-mayor form of governance. The new charter prevented Mayor Ronnie Thompson (R) from seeking the new post. Macon’s Black community was happy that Thompson would not be able to run again.

For the first time in the city’s history, district lines were drawn which made it easier for Blacks to be elected to serve on City Council. Five Black Democrats were elected in 1975, Willie C. Hill, Julius Vinson, Vernon Colbert, Rev. Eddie D. Smith and Delores Brooks. All except for Rev. Smith now sleep with the ancestors.

Rev. Hope ran for mayor under the new city charter in 1975. He was the first Black person to seek the mayor’s office under any form of government in the city’s history. The mayor’s race was eventually won by Buckner “Buck” Melton. He served one term and left to seek an unsuccessful run for governor.

When Melton declined to seek a second term, Ronnie Thompson attempted a comeback. The Black community was horrified. Thompson was challenged by a young Republican city councilman, George Israel, who actively campaigned for the Black vote and got it.

On this backdrop, Edwards rode into town.

He saw a more pragmatic approach to solving the problems facing the Black community than Black leaders prior to his arrival. He aligned himself with Vera Martin, Don Layfield, Ron Knight and George Israel, all of whom were power brokers in the Bibb County Republican Party.

He recruited other Blacks for leadership roles in the local Republican Party, even aiding in the recruitment of Black candidates. He was a rising star and destined to have an impact on how Macon and Bibb County did business.

We can now say that he has fulfilled that destiny by using his talents and his faith. He has run the course set out for him to run. I am personally touched by his passing as many of my friends were last week when they mourned the passing of Prince.

Lonzy Edwards becomes the second co-patriot (State Sen. Robert Brown being the other) from that group of young Turks who set out in the 1970s and 1980s to move Macon from her segregated past into the future to cast down his bucket in eternity. For this reason, as with Brown’s transition, Edwards’ transition has special meaning to me.

In 1977, Edwards thought I was not being treated fairly by a publisher of a local newspaper. The publisher had kept prize money that I had won from the National Newspaper Publisher’s Association, and would not allow me to have possession of the framed award that came with the prize.

So Edwards called and asked me to come into his office to discuss setting up a rival newspaper. We met for several hours and over the course of the next several months, we met to map out the business plan prior to launching the newspaper.

Being in his law office, discussing plans for a newspaper that would give me the editorial control I did not have where I was at that time, rather inspired me instead, to find a passage way to law school.

On a more personal note, in 1979 I met Cyn Anderson,  a young broadcaster who worked at WMAZ-Radio. Edwards saw us together at a political reception of some sort, and pulled me aside to whisper: “Don’t let that girl get away.”

After that, whenever he would see us together, Edwards would inevitably whisper: “Don’t let that girl get away.”

In 1981, Cyn and I married. We have shared a cup of coffee each morning since then, except for the times my work took me out of town overnight, or the four months I lived in the Smoky Mountains writing my novel Paper Puzzle. Cyn didn’t get away. Lonzy was right.

Ironically, Edwards takes his leave, like Robert Brown, in the same year he ran for Mayor of Macon. And like Brown, his mayoral opponent was the same person. They both made political blunders in their campaigns that were uncharacteristic of their sagacious political nature.  When Edwards stumbled a few weeks ago in a press conference he had called, I knew something was wrong. I sent word through my brother Gerald Harvey, to have him call me and I would help him with messaging his campaign. Word came back a week later that he had decided to suspend his campaign on the advice of his doctor.

Brown and Edwards entered the mayoral race for the same reason: “There is too much blight and poverty in the Black sections of Macon-Bibb County, Georgia.”

As history records, this was the same mantra coming from Black leaders in Macon, Georgia in the 1970s when Lonzy Edwards arrived in town armed with a law license in one hand and a Bible in the other.

If we truly loved him, we truly know how to honor his life and legacy.

 

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.

 

Macon Native to Sign Book

By Michael June 15, 2015 2

Macon Native Harold Michael Harvey to Sign His New Book Justice in the Round At Bethel C. M. E. Church On Father’s Day, June 21, 2015

Bethel C. M. E. Church, Macon, Georgia will host a book signing, following both worship services on Father’s Day, June 21, 2015, for native son Harold Michael Harvey.

His new book Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System, Cascade Publishing House, 2015, tackles justice in America following the George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn jury trials and the grand jury proceedings in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York. The church is located at 1668 Pio Nono Avenue.

“One salient fact shapes my frame of reference in these essays: All jurors bring to the jury room their genetics and their sundry environments. By virtue of this fact, we are all subconsciously race-conscious. No one can divorce themselves from their genetic make-up, but we can, if we choose, overcome the environmental conditions that will enable us to be fair to people with different genetics and social standing,” Harvey writes.

The author grew up in Macon’s Unionville community and Bethel C. M. E. Church, where he came under the mentorship of community activist Frank Johnson. He served the church as Assistant Superintendent of the Sunday School and as a member of the Senior Choir, Usher Board and the Steward Board before leaving home to attend law school in the early 1980s.

Harold Michael Harvey is the author of the legal thriller Paper Puzzle. He writes on legal and political issues at haroldmichaelharvey.com. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in political science from Tuskegee University and a Juris Doctorate from Atlanta Law School. He is the winner of the “Outstanding Work in Newspaper Journalism Award” from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (Macon Courier) and has won two semi-monthly Political Pundits Prizes from Allvoices.com. A former practicing lawyer, Harvey now spends his days reading and writing. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and vegetable garden. He writes wherever the muse takes him.

Harvey said he is excited that his home church is hosting a book signing for him. “I feel blessed that my home church continues to think highly of the nurturing they poured into me when I was growing up,” Harvey said.

Also, Bethel hosted a book signing for his first book Paper Puzzle.

“I am looking forward to seeing many of my family members from out of town and old high school classmates who are coming back to Macon to worship with us on Sunday. I feel blessed beyond words,” Harvey said.

Black History Week 1969

By Michael February 7, 2015 7

It was the forty-fifth day of the year, the last day of Black History Week 1969. I was a senior at the Lanier Senior High School, probably no more than five feet eight inches tall, and weighing in, after being soaked in a rainstorm, at one hundred and fifteen pounds.

Lanier had opened its doors to educate white boys exclusively in Macon, Georgia, three years before Dr. Carter G. Woodson began the first observance of Negro History Week in 1927.  Most of the town’s leading white citizens had graduated from Lanier. Many did not go on to college. It was enough to have been a “Lanier Boy.” The discipline and bearing of a Lanier boy were unmatched by any white youngster growing up in Middle Georgia during that day.

In 1964, Vernon Pitts, a rising senior at Ballard-Hudson Senior High School, the town’s oldest Negro high school, was permitted to enroll at Lanier by a federal court order. This broke a forty-year pattern of racial segregation at Lanier. Bert Bivins, a graduate of Ballard-Hudson High School had integrated Dudley Hughes, trade school, the year before after completing his military service. Also, the novelist Tina McElroy Ansa had previously integrated Mount de Sales Academy, a school run by the Catholic church in Macon, Georgia.

The following year, another court order opened the door for me to enroll in the ninth grade at Lanier Junior High School. There were perhaps twelve or fifteen of us. We were sent forth to test whether black and white students could successfully navigate the high school years without the racial violence that was prevalent in the larger society.

Throughout our high school years, we were out-numbered about ten-to-one. We were pioneers and as pioneers, we drew the brunt of white anguish over the changing times. We endured the same verbal and emotional abuse that white adults hurled upon civil rights demonstrators in the streets of southern America.

Our abuse was out of sight of television cameras. We were like captives on an island, with “nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.” There was the obvious name-calling, spitballs, a few fist fights, which in spite of the racial overtones were more boys being boys than racial hatred, and one serious threat painted on the wall of the military science building in 1968: “Niggers go home or die!”

No one went home! No one died! It fired me up.

I had for three years suppressed my desire to observe Black History Week. Needless to say, they did not teach, at Lanier, any meaningful contributions to society made by black people. The closest we came to a discussion of black people was about slavery. The hidden beauty of my segregated education prior to 1965 was in the fact that Black principals and Black teachers made sure that each February their Black students got a reminder of their place in American history.

Contributions of black people to America’s cultural and political development were never acknowledged. To do so, would hasten the day when blacks would be treated with the same equality as whites. And, on that day, no self-respecting white person wanted to give life to this possibility. Thus, my first three years at Lanier were devoid of any honorable mention of Negro History Week, the term that was in vogue in the 1960s.

I did not dare ask school administrators if the school would sponsor an observance of Black History Week. I believed that such a request would have died a terrible death and drawn more silent wrath to my remaining weeks in high school.

The thought came to me, that if all the black guys wore suits one day during Black History Week, we would cause our white colleagues to look at us in ways they had never considered before that day. This was a nice non-lethal plan, easy enough to pull off, one would have thought.

However, the plan presented two obstacles.

First, I had to convince about eighty black boys, some who did not own a suit, to wear a suit on Friday, February 14, a day that the kids usually wore blue jeans and sneakers( Students were required to wear a military uniform Monday through Wednesday and usually wore a nice pair of dress slacks on Thursdays). This was my first community organizing job. I spent a solid week on the phone lobbying all 80 black students. Initially, I was met with resistance. The guys were simply afraid to stick their heads out of the fox-hole.

So I twisted the arms of three popular athletes: Kenneth Nixon, the oldest brother of future NBA All-Star, “Norm” Nixon, James “JT” Thomas, a future winner of four Super Bowls, and Isaac Jackson, who was being recruited to Kansas by NFL All-Pro running back, Gale Sayers. When the word got out that Nixon, Thomas, and Jackson were on-board, the other kids agreed.

I went to sleep the night before the big event not knowing what to expect. When I walked on campus, I was greeted by brothers wearing suits, raised clenched fists, and the salutation: “Right on, Brother Harold!”

It was a spectacular day at ole Lanier Senior High School. The brothers looked good. Each of us represented the best of our people and the best in our families. Their chests were stuck out like never before that day. I could feel the buoyancy of pride puffed up in those black bodies, in those gifted minds.

It was very important to me to send this message to my classmates because they had pretended that we had not been present for school for the previous four years.

The second obstacle, I did not foresee. The racial blowback from white students was fierce. They called for White Power Day rallies and intimated that a cross-burning would occur at Harold Harvey’s house later that evening.

The administration, both the major in charge of the military science program and the school principal, threatened to hold me responsible for any fights that broke out that day.

“Are you kidding me,” was the incredulous look on my face. I told them both in separate meetings that we came dressed in our fine Sunday clothes and fighting was the last thing on our minds.

Also, instead of talking to me, they should be talking with the white kids, because our act of solidarity and display of pride for us and our people was not a threat to them or their way of life.

Perhaps, I was a little naive on that last point.

By 2:00 o’clock that afternoon, the coats started coming off and the ties were loosening at the collar, but the smiles – those priceless big boy smiles – I can still see the brothers beaming with pride.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round, Easier to obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights by Charles Steele, Jr.; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.

Jack Ellis: A Black History Salute

By Michael February 4, 2015 0

C. Jack Ellis, today I tip my hat to you in observance of Black History Month. You inspired many with your successful run for Mayor of the City of Macon, Georgia just before the turn of the century. Your tenure in office was so successful, that the Georgia General Assembly changed the form of government by consolidating the city and the county in order to keep you from returning as Mayor of Macon.

There will never be another Mayor of Macon, Georgia. You were the next to the last one. This is quite a legacy for a skinning kid who grew up in Unionville, studied from second-hand books that had been worn-out by the  white kids at Lanier and Miller High School by the time you got your hands on them over at ole Ballard-Hudson High, and serve your country well during the Vietnam War era.

I know politics being what it is, you left office unappreciated, maligned, and misunderstood. Your every move was called into question. It is always the most difficult on the first, the pioneer, who beats back the weeds and overgrowth, cutting a clear pathway for others to follow.

President Barack Obama could have looked at your playbook before taking office as a roadmap for what he could expect in terms of the criticism and the flyspecking of his every good intention.

You weathered the storms like a true Unionville boy (And I use the term “boy” with affection). Your town may not roll out the red carpet for you, or thank you for your service; but I want you to know, that I am proud of you. I appreciate your service to our hometown. I salute you, C. Jack Ellis, the first and only Black Mayor of Macon, Georgia.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at https://haroldmichaelharvey.com.