A pioneering Black entrepreneur who was a major media figure in Philadelphia and Atlantic City has died. Earl Harvey, 65, died of a heart attack in Atlantic City where he lived and took care of his mother, according to a statement from the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.
Harvey was the publisher of The Black Professionals News and The Atlantic City Times. He also produced a series of networking events for Black business people and politicians. His annual holiday gala was a highlight of the Black social circuit.
“Earl discovered a pathway to editorial and financial freedom that allowed him to serve the information and social needs of the Delaware Valley’s Black Community like none other,” wrote PABJ president Manuel Smith in a statement. “He is a trailblazer of journalistic integrity and independence that we all should aspire to.”
PABJ remembers the life & legacy of Earl Harvey, who recently passed away.
He was a trailblazer who connected media professionals across the region and a steward of Black media entrepreneurship.
Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family and friends. ❤️https://t.co/vNTH9Z8N9d
— pabj (@pabj) October 13, 2020
Harvey’s career in the media started literally on day one: He was born early in the morning on New Year’s Day, 1955, and instantly made the news as the first Black baby to be born in Philadelphia that year.
As a child growing up, his favorite possession was an AM transistor radio.
“I would sleep with it under my pillow,” he wrote in a recent email interview with Front Runner New Jersey.
Later, he attended Temple University to study media and journalism.
Harvey worked as a marketing consultant and in 1995 became the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Alliance of Marketing Developers, where he helped Black-owned businesses network with each other and expand their markets, particularly smaller businesses with fewer advertising resources.
While there, he saw a gap in the media landscape: “I noted there was a lack at that time for affordable publications for those businesses to advertise in,” he said in an online video in 2014 when he was given the PABJ Community Service Award.
Harvey started The Black Professionals News in the late 1990s, and quickly pivoted the publication online as an email newsletter in the early 2000s. In 2015, he launched The Atlantic City Times. He also hosted numerous parties and gatherings throughout the year, primarily for the region’s Black community, the most anticipated being the annual holiday gala, in recent years held at the African American Museum of Philadelphia.
“It was, to me, the true essence of Black Philadelphia’s professional scene,” said Ernest Owens, who attended his first holiday gala when he was a 24-year-old journalist launching his career. “If you are a city councilperson, a state rep, an attorney, an emerging journalist, you were there.”
I received the sad news late last night and was hoping it wasn’t true.
Earl Harvey was an incredible man who created inclusive spaces for all people in local media and walked the talk that so many people in this industry rarely do. pic.twitter.com/gDwU4yQiPn
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) October 13, 2020
Owens described the annual holiday party as “the Black Pennsylvania Society,” in reference to the annual political retreat in New York City.
“Earl owned a Black-owned publication that provided information to the community in ways that the larger media community still has not been able to do,” said Owens. “That work is going to be truly missed.”
After the news of his death broke on social media, primarily from WDAS DJ Patty Jackson’s Facebook page, a torrent of comments were posted remembering Harvey. The scope of the comments suggested the huge number of people who crossed paths with him.
“He was everywhere,” wrote Mariska Bogle via Facebook. “Focused, community driven with a huge heart. He will be missed.”
“He did so much, and he had a passion for it. This is something he loved doing,” said Jackson, who had known Harvey for many years. “You gotta have a little extra in you that goes beyond your smile. He had a way of really communicating with people.”