Since he was a young man, Trevor Harvey, president of the Sarasota Chapter of the NAACP, has been driven to improve the lives of people in Newtown and “give voice to the voiceless.”
Inspired by such mentors as the late Ed James and Willie Holley, Harvey, now 53, wanted to be a role model for other young Black men. Newtown is his community, he says; his family traces its roots there back 100 years. Harvey started as a volunteer coach for Little League Baseball and youth football in Newtown, and today he is an academic counselor at State College of Florida. He also finds time to hold executive positions on boards, from Children First to Booker High School’s Foundation to the City of Sarasota’s 2020 Census Complete Count Committee. Still, most people know him as the go-to NAACP president, a mantle he’s worn since 2005.
It’s a hot seat position as racial issues, police actions and gentrification fears collide. Harvey has cultivated a quiet, thoughtful temperament along with an easy laugh that have made him a powerful intermediary.
Looking back, Harvey takes pride that NAACP helped to make sure Sarasota County looks for people of color as school system administrators.
“We have one of the largest minority pools of administrators in Sarasota County,” he says. Recently he and the NAACP were instrumental in making the Robert Taylor Community Center in Newtown a Covid-19 testing site so that its residents, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, have easy access to testing.
Harvey also was pivotal in forging a relationship with the Sarasota Police Department, creating the Newtown Community Response Team made up of law enforcement, pastors and community members. If there’s an issue in Newtown, law enforcement immediately calls the team to diffuse the situation.
Harvey, who says his faith in God—and our better angels—guides him, tells a story about visiting a school in Israel with Jewish and Palestinian students. “They learned each other’s songs, learned each other’s hospitality. This is what the world is supposed to look like,” he says. “In spite of our differences we can still have meaningful dialogue and fellowship.” And, he adds, “a seat at the table.”