New Jersey community organizer and activist Balozi Robert Alexander Harvey dies at age 76

Cyril Josh Barker | 1/5/2017, 4:02 p.m.
Pan-African nationalists and the community in Newark are mourning the passing of community organizer and activist Balozi Robert Alexander Harvey, ...
Balozi Robert Alexander Harvey Contributed

Pan-African nationalists and the community in Newark are mourning the passing of community organizer and activist Balozi Robert Alexander Harvey, who died Dec. 28 at the age of 76. Harvey was best known as the founder and chairman of the Black Community Development Organization.

Harvey was laid to rest at a Janazah service held Sunday at the National Islamic Association in Newark.

Born in 1940 in East Orange, N.J., Harvey graduated from Seton Hall University, where he studied political science. He was fluent in several languages, including Swahili, Mandarin, Arabic and Zulu. Since the 1960s he had traveled all over the world, making 200 trips to Africa.

In New York, Harvey operated as a Non-Governmental Organization Representative to the United Nations for the Congress of Afrikan People between 1970 and 1973. He worked with former Newark Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson as a special aide in the office. Harvey also worked as mayoral liaison to the Newark-Rutgers University Small Business Development Center in 1978 and served as the president of the Newark United Nations Association.

Working closely with several foreign dignitaries, Harvey was named the North American representative and spokesman for Cheikh Moutada M’Backe, spiritual leader of the Mourid Islamic Community headquartered in Touba, Senegal. In 1997, he was appointed as special presidential envoy of the Government of Liberia by President of the Republic of Liberia H.E. Charles G. Taylor. Balozi also served as the president of the Mourid Islamic Community in America.

In 2003, Harvey was appointed director of the Office of Cultural Diversity and Affirmative Action, where he served as a member of the Essex County Disparity Study Commission and the Essex County Juvenile Justice Disparities Working Group. The following year, Harvey was appointed as executive director of the Essex County Economic Development Corporation.

“Few have done more to build bridges between African nations and the Black communities of America,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “As a businessman and diplomat, Balozi Harvey facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars in trade between Africa and the United States, developing trade and investment relationships between American small-, minority- and women-owned firms and developing nations. As a teacher, organizer and mentor, he opened the eyes of youth in Essex County to African history, values and culture, preaching that knowledge and understanding of our African heritage are necessary to instill pride and self-confidence in our young people.”