HAMPTON, Va. (December 11, 2018) – The Hampton University William R. Harvey Leadership Institute dedicated their conference room to President, William R. Harvey’s father, Willie D.C. Harvey. Several of the W.D.C. Harvey Scholars were in attendance for the dedication ceremony and to speak with Dr. Harvey.
Often cited as an impressive Civil Rights Activist and community leader, W.D.C. Harvey was known as a strong leader and advocate for social change. He was a social activist and a business leader. The William R. Harvey Leadership Institute (WRHLI)’s W.D.C. Scholars is named after Dr. Harvey’s father.
During the dedication ceremony, Dr. Harvey spoke to the 13 Harvey Scholars and told the story of how he used to sit in on informal Civil Rights meetings in his parent’s living room.
“My father was a building contractor and he was a Civil Rights leader back in the times when there was a racist south. During those times African Americans could not go into certain restaurants or hotels so there were homes all over the south where people like Martin Luther King Jr., his brother, A.D. King, could come and usually it was on Saturday or Sunday. They would come and get a glass of tea, a meal and occasionally spend the night. My father had an 8th grade education and he was the smartest person I have ever met in my life. My father allowed me to sit in our living room with the proviso that I couldn’t say a word. I could listen. I could absorb. But I couldn’t talk. I can tell you, as a young boy, listening to Dr. King and Ralph Abernathy and all those other luminaries, I had a ton of questions. But the fact is that back then, if you didn’t do what your daddy or your mama told you to do, they would whip your behind. During those meetings, I heard current strategy, future strategy, problems, challenges, hardships, failures, and I would be sitting there and I could hardly stand still, because these were people that you see on the news. These were people that were planning things that we knew about 2-3 weeks ahead. What does that mean for me? Number one, I was an eyewitness to history. Number two, it taught me listening skills. I don’t care how smart you are, you always learn something.”
WRHLI dedicated a plaque in Dr. Harvey’s father’s name, a picture of him in the conference room, and even gave Dr. Harvey the signature WRHLI blazer that all the WRHLI Fellows wear.
Dr. Harvey left the students with some sound advice. “Think for yourself, that’s what a leader does. Think about what’s best for you, your community, and your family. Don’t let anybody tell you what to think, learn how to think. Lead, guide, and be of service. That’s who my father was,” Dr. Harvey said.