TimesRecord (ME).com Opinion: Wiscasset students step out to build the beloved community

kharvey

Keith Harvey

KEITH ‘BEAR’ HARVEY was a scholarship football player on the Miami University of Ohio football team when its team name was the “Redskins.” His acceptance of that nickname changed following a conversation with a Native American classmate. Harvey’s commentary below explains why he joined the effort to change the team’s nickname.

AFSC's Keith Harvey discusses "redskins," his childhood and "building the beloved community."

A few days ago, an article from the Lincoln County News landed on my desk. The article referenced the work of two of my staff in Maine, both Native women, and the struggle to address the racism embedded in the term “redskin.” When I read the words “The people who want to change it should be shot,” I was instantly transported to my childhood.

My father, James Harvey, worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers). The important work of integration became the work of my entire family — children and adults. Over the course of my childhood, I would be asked to integrate four schools. My sister and I would be the only Black children in our schools, and our family, the only Black family in our neighborhoods. Our task was to show that we were people, just folks who could keep a nice house and a beautiful yard and that I could go to school and not just attend but excel. Our task was to become neighbors and to make friends.

It was hard. We were threatened with words not so different from the words in the Lincoln County News article.

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