Northwestern Magazine
Senior Watch
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Coley Harvey

Speaking His Mind

Coley Harvey can’t avoid opportunities for outspoken activism.

That’s why the senior from Atlanta found himself leading a throng down Sheridan Road one cold day in February. As one of the organizers of the March for Unity–Rally for Respect, Harvey and other activists led a protest sparked by comments in a Daily Northwestern editorial that questioned the role of cultural organizations in promoting diversity.

Harvey believes the real crisis of diversity at Northwestern is the relatively small number of African American students. That’s why he works with African American student recruitment in the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

A member of Phi Beta Sigma, a predominantly African American fraternity, Harvey also helped start Bridging the Gap, a sustained dialogue between diverse members of Northwestern’s Greek organizations. And last year he helped found the University’s Minority Male Leadership Conference.

A poet and spoken word (or performance poetry) artist, Harvey also lends his talents to MindRap, a multimedia education program that combines math and science concepts and hip hop. Chicago high school students create raps or poems about primary numbers or the Venn diagram, for example, which are then taught to Chicago elementary schoolchildren. The program helps educate students about math and science but also about poetry’s essentials, including repetition, alliteration and imagery.

An aspiring newspaper journalist who spent two summers writing for Major League Baseball’s web site, Harvey says he’ll “never have to work again” if he lands a sports-writing gig. He’ll start his newspaper career as a general assignment reporter with the Telegraph in Macon, Ga.

Harvey says he’ll also continue “to bring up issues that don’t get covered or don’t get covered properly.” He knows activism is in his nature. “I’m not going to seek it out, but it’s bound to pop in my lap,” he said. “If something makes me passionate, I’m going to go at it and take care of that goal.”

—Sean Hargadon

Photo by Bill Arsenault