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WMFE highlights the contributions of Black Leaders across Central Florida as part of Black History Month

One attorney is paving the way for change

Lisa Harvey is the Attorney and President of the Paul C. Perkins Bar Association
Marian Summerall
Lisa Harvey is the Attorney and President of the Paul C. Perkins Bar Association

Lisa Harvey said she didn’t always know she wanted to be an attorney, what she did know was that she wanted to help those around her.

“I always did promise myself I would always find my sector of where I could give back and what I can do.”

Harvey, a 2015 Florida A&M University College of Law graduate, took on the role of President of the Paul C. Perkins Bar Association about a year ago. Her realization to become a lawyer came later in life, when she discovered a passion for justice and advocating for equality.

The organization was founded in 1981 to promote the advancement of African Americans in Central Florida in the legal field. With new initiatives, Harvey said that goal remains.

“Know that we're not just here as a name, but as an actual entity that's trying to be an agent of change,” Harvey said.

While the Paul C. Perkins Bar Association was created and mainly serves the African American community, Harvey said it is open to all.

Jamaica’s national motto, “out of many one people,” references the nation’s muti-racial roots. Because Harvey's parents are Jamaican, and she spent many summers there, the motto is one that Harvey lives by. She incorporated the motto into her leadership role this past year.

“My approach has always been to forge a community within this organization while advancing our mission," Harvey said.

That mission includes educating and uplifting Central Florida's Black community through a voter registration initiative with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. The sorority is the oldest Greek lettered sorority led by college-educated African American women.

Under Harvey’s tenure, the bar has also adopted Ivey Lane elementary school where they held a toy drive for the kids around Christmas.

It's extremely important that we invest in the youth, because that's who's going to be in charge one day," Harvey said. "So, it's not only investing in the youth, but it's making them know that they can do whatever they want.”

Lisa Harvey stands with students and Paul C. Perkins Bar Association members at Ivey Lane elementary school.
Paul C. Perkins Bar Association
Lisa Harvey stands with students and Paul C. Perkins Bar Association members at Ivey Lane elementary school.

The Paul C. Perkins Bar Association is named after civil rights advocate Paul C. Perkins Sr. He was also the second African American attorney in Central Florida. Because of his accomplishments, Harvey said she wants people to always be reminded of his legacy.

"I hope that we never forget the essence of what this organization and whom this organization was named after,” Harvey said.

Harvey is very passionate about her role as a leader in the Central Florida community and she is humbled for her role as president. But she acknowledges that as a leader, there is a great reasonability that is attached to her role.

When it comes to many of the problems that exist here, Harvey believes if people and leaders can continue to try to understand each other instead of ostracizing, things will continue to improve.

“I was told one day that honesty without love is brutality," Harvey said. "And I think that that's something that we should try to maybe work on all together.”

Taisha Easterling has known Harvey for about a decade and a half. They met at UCF and are both attorneys and best friends.

Easterling has love and respect for her friend and said Harvey’s leadership is undeniable.

“She's always been the leader of the pack. She's always trying to put things together trying to create different ideas and run with different ideas,” Easterling said.

During her time as president so far, Easterling said Harvey has turned the bar association into a community focused organization and that the people are better for it.

While leadership is demanding Harvey says she has no doubt she’s in the right place and is inspired every day by her family and community.

“I think at the end of the day, when you see the products of that work, and when you see the lives that it's affecting, you're so honored," Harvey said. "That you've been given this opportunity, and it's God ordained for you at that very moment."

Marian is a multimedia journalist at Central Florida Public Media working as a reporter and producer for the 'Are We There Yet?' space podcast.
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