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Culture / POC in Tech

Earl Harvey, 65, was an innovator in the Black business community

Black Professionals News Publisher Earl Harvey was known for using events to build community for Black entrepreneurs. He died on Monday, Oct. 12.

Earl Harvey in 2011. (Photo via

Black business advocate Earl Harvey passed away Monday, Oct. 12, at the age of 65 after suffering a heart attack.

Harvey studied media and communications at Temple University and would go on to become publisher of Black Professionals News in the late 1990s as well as the Atlantic City Times in 2015.

Harvey was known as an ardent proponent of Black business and worked to build social capital within the local Black professional community.

Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists President and CBS Philly/KYW-TV Managing Editor Manuel McDonell Smith remembers Harvey as an innovator in journalism. As a media professional, Harvey was an early adopter of using events to generate revenue and build community.

“[Earl] was first among publishers anywhere to identify that meaningful impact and revenue could be had by hosting original, in-person events, like the Black Professionals’ Christmas Party,” McDonnell Smith said. “With that innovation, 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. Like our other fallen brother Heshimu Jaramogi, he is a trailblazer of journalistic integrity and independence that we all should aspire to.”

Joel Wilson, who is both the president and CEO of JCW Computer Consulting, LLC, and executive director of iBuyBlack Philadelphia, said he worked closely with Harvey to launch the latter initiative to support local Black businesses and provide information on resources for Black entrepreneurs. He first met Harvey in the early ’90s as a recent college graduate just getting his business off the ground.

He said Harvey facilitated events at First District Plaza and encouraged the 200 or more patrons to support and learn more of the businesses that had tables at the events.

“Mr. Harvey was just always a champion and supporter of Black businesses in or around Philadelphia,” he said.

When the pandemic began in March 2020, Wilson and Harvey began coordinating weekly Zoom meetings with 34 Black business leaders for the Black Business Leadership Council. Friday, Oct. 9, marked the last meeting that the council would compare notes with Harvey on how to help save local Black businesses reeling from the pandemic. Wilson had a meeting with Harvey on Monday before his passing and was stunned when he learned Harvey was gone.

“We had a meeting at 1 p.m. and it was like any other meeting,” he said. “I had no idea anything was wrong.”

Gary Sheppard, the president, CEO and founder of boutique advertising agency 3rd Floor Media LLC, also collaborated with Harvey on developing iBuyBlack in Philadelphia. The two knew each other for years before working together on the initiative.

Sheppard said that Harvey worked to make sure Black businesses had the resources to compete in the local economy and get the exposure they deserved. Like many others who knew Harvey, his positive demeanor and resourceful social capital left an impression on Sheppard.

“Earl was the guy to be the positive cheerleader,” he said. “He would always end our conversations with, ‘My man. my man.’ He had special relationships with a lot of people that were intended to work in a synergistic way.”

Harvey lived in Atlantic City until his passing, according to The Philadelphia Tribune.

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

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