Harvey Adams loved his golf and he loved his community—and he wasn’t shy about it. From his days as one of the city’s first Black police officers, to founding the Guardians of Greater Pittsburgh to protect the interests of Black officers, the protests he led as director of the NAACP, to his battles with the city as chief of the Housing Authority of the city of Pittsburgh police, Adams was relentless.
“I’ll never forget Harvey and (later Chief) Mugsy Moore traveling the country calling attention to the problems in the Pittsburgh police,” said longtime friend and New Pittsburgh Courier Columnist Louis “Hop” Kendrick. “He jeopardized his job, had death threats, but he never quit. And he made it possible for a lot of Blacks and women to become police.”
Adams was larger than life, and that life will again be honored, along with that of late Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Walter Little, at the 2019 Spirit of King Awards. This year’s annual ceremony will take place at the Kingsley Association, 6435 Frankstown Ave., Jan. 10, at 10 a.m.
“He was fearless. I have always respected him for being bold enough and courageous enough to fight for others,” said former state Rep. Bill Robinson. “We in the Black community owe a huge debt of gratitude to Harvey.”
As out front and media savvy Adams was, Little was reserved and thoughtful. As longtime friend the late Wendell Freeland noted, Little’s legacy isn’t found in lawbooks, but in the young Black lawyers—and judges—he mentored, his commitment to the community and his decision to stay on the bench until another African American male joined the court. That male was Dwayne Woodruff.
“I had great affection for him. He was a hard worker both in the criminal and orphans court divisions,” Freeland said upon Little’s death. “He helped a lot of lawyers in a lot of different ways. He was a good friend.”
In addition to Woodruff, others Little mentored included former state Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Baldwin and Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III.
“He took the time to reach back and assist me and others, and a lot of my smoother ways on the bench are because of Judge Little,” said Woodruff. “He knew there was a need for African American males on the bench. It was important to him, ultimately even more than his health. I was pleased that he thought enough of me to be that person.”
The Spirit of King ceremony is sponsored by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the Kingsley Association and the New Pittsburgh Courier.
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