Whether fighting in Korea or for civil rights in the streets of Pittsburgh, Harvey Adams Jr. was a soldier. And he received a soldier’s farewell from the U.S. Army honor guard that joined more than 300 friends at his funeral.
|HONORED SERVICE—A U.S. Army honor guard presents Harvey Adams’ widow, Shirley, with the flag that covered his casket during his funeral service at Bethel AME Church in the Hill District.
Adams, who died Sept. 7, was lauded as a man of action, who in his role as a police officer, president of the NAACP Pittsburgh Branch and a director of the city’s housing authority police, helped transform Pittsburgh and its police force in particular, to the betterment of African-Americans and women.
“There isn’t an African-American in this city who doesn’t owe Harvey a debt of gratitude,” said media entrepreneur Eddie Edwards, who spoke at the Sept. 12 service at Bethel AME Church in the Hill District.
“He fought for this city like no one else I’ve ever seen,” he said. “When we last talked he said, ‘What are we going to do about (the loss of) WAMO?’ And I promised him we will have another radio station. He was my big brother and I’ll miss him.”
Others in attendance included state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D- Lawrenceville, Allegheny County Councilman Bill Robinson, retired District Magistrate Edward Tibbs, former YMCA President Julius Jones, attorney Wendell Freeland, educators Helen Faison and Ralph Proctor, media entrepreneur Eddie Edwards, television host Chris Moore and his wife, Joyce Meggerson Moore, Adams’ successors at the NAACP Tim Stevens and M. Gayle Moss, clergy and others from throughout western Pennsylvania.
The service included rousing renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” by Rev. Nicole Colvin, celebratory remarks from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and praise from visiting clergy including Rev. J. Alfred Winsett from Ebenezer Baptist Church, who referencing Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” said Harvey was born great, achieved greatness and had greatness thrust upon him.
“I was in Tennessee and I called his son and said I had to be here because at Ebenezer, we adopted Harvey as a half-member,” he said.
Reverend Walter Evans of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church read the 23rd Psalm and called Adams a soldier for civil rights.
“He was a soldier on this side, so we know he’ll be a soldier for you, Lord,” he said.
In addition, parishioners read testimonials from several rights organizations including the NAACP New Castle Branch and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, whose President Esther Bush wrote:
“Harvey was a civil rights giant. We benefited from his insight and energy, and he leaves behind a legacy of improved lives.”
Proclamations honoring Adams from Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl were also read, the latter by Ed Gainey, assistant to the mayor declaring Sept. 12 as Harvey Adams Day in Pittsburgh.
“I’m here to cherish a hero of mine. He was a role model and a father figure to me,” said Gainey.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant said one need only look at her to see Adams’ legacy.
“In 2009, you have a Black chief and an assistant chief. We wouldn’t be here without Harvey Adams,” she said. “I’m so proud that our National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives chapter honored him last year, and let him know that we know what he did for us.”
Reverend Samson Cooper, presiding elder of the AME Pittsburgh Conference and Adams’ friend for more than 40 years, began his eulogy by thanking God for sharing Harvey and delivering him “from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant.”
Basing his eulogy on the parable of the “Good Samaritan,” Cooper said Adams was everyone’s neighbor.
“Harvey was the good samaritan. He was our friend and comrade,” he said. “He was neighbor to rich and poor, Black and White, skilled and unskilled, and friend to the saints and the ‘aints.’ He was our neighbor because of his compassion, his integrity and his love for himself, his family, for others and for God.”
Following the ceremony, Robinson lamented that little had been said about Adams’ contributions to furthering Blacks in Pittsburgh’s political arena, especially his helping to establish the United Black Ward Chairmen.
“Without Harvey and the ward chairs, I would never have been a city councilman, let alone anything else,” he said. “All we had to do was show up, speak the King’s English and get elected. They did all the heavy lifting.”
Adams’ remains were cremated and placed in a niche at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil, Pa.
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