Thursday, September 5, 2019

Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir On the Craft of Resistance by Harold Michael Harvey

I am a beacon of light in this world--Silent Unity

"He had in his soul all that went to make a fanatic,
a knight errant. Ready to sacrifice himself, fearing
nobody and nothing, strong in body, study in
commitment, full of unending belief."
--W. E. B. Du Bois

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. Harvey, author of Paper Puzzle and Justice in the Round, is an award- winning journalist and political pundit.He has a B.S. and a JD degree. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. Contact him at

Any book that has the title Freaknik Lawyer deserves some immediate attention for potential readers. For me, the title represents recognition and honor given to the author for handling nearly 200 individual pro bono cases for students who were unexpectedly caught up in what was considered spring break for Black students in surrounding areas of Atlanta.Working your head off free...Now that's what I mean by getting your freak on! Respect and thanks goes to Harvey when he stands by his promise, even when nobody else followed through as planned! You are one cool Dude!

Reading the third book by Michael Harvey, for me, was an honor and privilege. It was the sub-title, A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance, that literally shocked me... We are about the same age, but what I learned about Harvey's early life, in no way related to mine, I was poor white and my mother worked "all the time" to keep four children fed and clothed. But my life was fairly normal for us...

There was no way for me to know up north that a young Black boy was, at the same time,  experiencing so much pain--just to get an education. My opinion and respect for Michael Harvey increased about 100% through reading this latest book, Freaknik Lawyer. Mr. Harvey is known to me only through his books and his online presence. But, after all he has gone through, he still has the character and respect to write in my copy, "I hope you find this memoir worthy of some of your reading time."

When I consider the divide in America right now, it is knowing the author and his books, which helps me have hope that this administration will never be able to incite those of different races that can share lives together, learn from them, and realize while we are different, we are so very much alike in our basic moral character.

Michael Harvey attended segregated schools in his early life.

In this age of social media intimidation and bullying, name-calling is at a new level. At the beginning of the 2020 Presidential Election cycle, I wrote a piece pushing back on people who debated whether Senator Kamala Haris was Black enough to be a Black candidate for President...Damn, a life dedicated to serving others at great sacrifice to myself and my family, and after three scores and nearly ten, I come down to "Acting White...bastardized by Black Right-Wing shills, for White Likes." This description from a young Black woman who was not born when I committed my first act of resistance against tyranny and injustice...(this) caused me to reflect on a life dedicated toward the abuse of American democracy in the affairs of my community. And Freaknik Lawyer was born...

Readers will read and learn about Plessy and Brown, perhaps like you've never read about it. The life that was affected by both is one that must be told from one who first broke through into a segregated school, but also was faced with and learned how to begin to deal with the Craft of Resistance.

Imagine, if you will, that the law has been changed and children were allowed to pick what school they could attend. Harvey was one of the few who chose a better white school, in order to ensure he would learn all that he can... And was bullied and tortured by white students every day...

Education was important to the family and choices were made upon that desire to do what was needed to obtain as much as needed to handle what your goals in life were. It was in the late 1800s when Paul Calvin Coley graduated by Meharry Medical College. Part of the graduation ceremony included: "If the prejudice of the whites against the negro was not dead, it was dying. You should meet prejudice in a Christian spirit. The future depends not upon the color of your skin, but upon the force of your brain, your capacity to toil and the comprehension you have of your profession... And one of the surprising factors that stunned the community was that the top scorer was a "colored man" named Paul Coley...yet prejudice and discrimination also affected this brilliant young man.

For Harvey, in 1964, an event impacted his life was when the students were first given the choice to decide whether to go to an integrated school. The white power structure had a hard time dealing with this change, even to the extent of trying to imply in the news,  what Negroes should do: "Self-respecting Negroes Don't Want Integration"... Michael found that he was then caught in the middle...shunned by the white students...and ridiculed by the Black students. Making it through high school in a integrated school was enough, he moved on to college in Black schools... Michael's one reason for trying different schools was his desire to be a professional ball, he never made it...

The struggles of Harold Michael Harvey may have run parallel with other Black individuals who chose to resist...For me, a white reader, I have to say it was a stunning, perplexing time that I knew little about. Only one Black girl was in my junior and senior high and we became friends...Many whites have never known what was done to humiliate and denigrate those who were seeking education in the south.

Even as the book ends, Michael still wonders why he chose to act as he did and where did he find the courage to have met each trial as it was presented.

What we can never forget is the fact, we first came in chains."
--Muhammad Ali

The book closes with a "Prayer for Relief." I think about the realization that it is only in the last three years that I have seen such incitement of division, prejudice and disrespect for one another. And that, in fact, the Black race is still fighting something that has existed since they were freed from being slaves. I add my prayer statement to that ending of the book by Michael...Therefore, "Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord is with you wherever you go"...Joshua 1:9. 

May it be in our lifetime that there is no more division based upon the color of our skin...

A Must-Read recommendation from me...



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