Audrey P. Harvey, 90, of Greensboro, NC passed away on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Born in Schenectady, NY on August 1, 1930, to jazz musicians the late Edith Payne Carswell and Kermit Payne, she was raised by her beloved late grandmother Jessalyne Payne. Throughout her life, Audrey advocated for civil and human rights recognizing that with exposure and access to opportunities, people could realize their full potential. Among her many achievements, Audrey was a community activist fighting for fair housing, pay equity, social justice and access to higher education. She was also a founding member of the Schenectady Legal Aid Society, an executive director of the Schenectady Community Action Program (SCAP), and a pioneering television host/producer for WMHT’s (PBS) “Black Telecom.” As Program Director with NYS Department of Mental Hygiene, Audrey created partnerships with medical schools which increased the enrollment of Black and Brown students to become physicians. During her time with the NYS Civil Service Commission, Audrey identified discriminatory practices and disparities in the state exam which led to a major lawsuit and corrective measures for future exams. Following her career in NYS, Audrey moved to Washington, DC as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Public Health, and later as an administrator for DC Village, a long-term care community.
Audrey was a life-long learner and earned her Master’s in Public Administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs without having an undergraduate degree. A voracious reader who treasured the written word, Audrey’s tastes in literature were varied and she was known to turn a phrase herself. On her 75th birthday, she gifted celebrants with an autobiographical chapbook, “I Live In Memory”, an intimate remembrance in prose poetry.
An adventurous spirit, some of Audrey’s fondest memories were spent traveling to explore different cultures or visit family and friends across the US, Canada, London, Ghana, Paris, the Caribbean or South Africa. As the daughter of jazz musicians, she loved the ability of music to bring people together, tell a story and make a memory.
Audrey’s faith and passion lead her to an association of believers and doers of the Word, as a founding member of both The Community Concert Choir of Baltimore and The Open Church of Maryland, performing the songs and hymns of her childhood and beyond. Her participation in both were high points of her retirement life in Baltimore. Prior to moving to Greensboro, Audrey and her partners in conviction attended numerous jazz festivals, Broadway shows and visited the Obama White House.
Left to share memories of a life fully lived are her children: Dyane Harvey-Salaam (Abdel) of NYC, Erich Harvey (Palesa) of Atlanta, and Lynn Harvey-Akan (Obasi) of Greensboro; grandchildren KhiSekh Adams (DeShawn), Negashi Harvey and Obadele Akan; great grandchildren Akkoto, Jasmine and Kayla; godson, Dr. Dahari Brooks; sisters in Christ Elsa Brooks, and Dr. Margaret Price Amono-Lartsen; extended family and a multitude of friends. Special appreciation to the staff of The Carriage House Senior Living Community and gratitude for their care, especially Alma, Magnolia, Gwen, Olululade and Fatou.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a memorial service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers or other offerings, the family requests donations be made to The Open Church of Maryland (theopenchurchmd.org) or the Community Concert Choir of Baltimore (cccbmore.org) Attention: The Audrey Payne Harvey Memorial Fund.
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