A. Maurice Harvey, Speaker for Living Waters Black Youth Wellness Summit 2023
Knowing exactly what it meant to have black representation for humans that looked like him, A. Maurice Harvey made it his mission to help teens, and young black males within the community to identify, build trust, seek help and overcome adversity.
Harvey grew up in a single parent household in Lisbon, NC, where his mother raised him. While she had ideals for him, like becoming a man of standard. Harvey, like most teenage boys, rebelled a little.
He didn’t fall off track completely. Harvey did exactly what his mother envisioned, and became active in the church, in addition to venturing into college.
Although Harvey assumed he'd teach biology and science, the subjects didn't arouse his passion, or lead him into a fulfilling purpose. Harvey changed majors, and went into electrical engineering, and technology, before landing into social work…
"Social work became a thing because one of my fraternity brothers, who was a social work major at the time. He kinda said to me, ‘Hey, you have some amazing leadership skills," Harvey spoke about the encounter that changed his life. "People kinda look towards you for certain things, you have a listening ear, and a passion for people. You should look at being a social worker.”
Harvey’s fraternity brother lived in South Carolina, wore his hair in Dreadlocks, was the same dark hue as him, and was refreshingly different than the imagery of traditional social workers, which piqued his interest, launching him into that area of studies.
“As soon as I changed my major to social work, it was like the lights went off in my head that just made sense. The things that my mother and grandmother had taught me through life about loving people where they are, about getting people to be supportive of one another, they were all things that the social work theories, the classes and the class work were all about; and social work just stuck. It just made sense,” he refers to the why of his journey.
Once Harvey made the connection, that the area of study was more than a degree. Clearly, he found yearning, impetus, and maybe even destiny. Harvey worked at a group home, while later graduating with a Bachelors of Social Work from UNC Charlotte.
Harvey is from Lisbon, which is an area in Bladen, NC, that accounts for a small population of about 1,931 people, which is 10.2% Blacks, that live in Bladen.
Unfortunately, the poverty in Bladen is 95.24% higher than the country, and because of this, Harvey is somewhat familiar of what "at opportunity" for assistance meant to a small degree.
Of course, Harvey had more positive reinforcements than most black kids growing up, including a village, that stepped in to help navigate him on this stretch, and thing called life including family that lived in a low income development in Atlanta, Georgia where he’d often spend his summers…
Harvey said that he didn’t know anything much about social work, other than workers snatching kids from their families, placing them in foster care.
Harvy isn’t far off from his assessments, when speaking on the challenges many families faced in those underserved, and at-opportunity communities.
The data suggests that there is a racial disproportionality with CPS workers; ironically, black representatives are harsher on black cases than white social workers. Harvey's analysis wasn’t far off.
There are different types of social workers, that primarily determine cause and effect when considering community. The CPS (Child Protective Services) focuses on the family, screening and reporting of child abuse and neglect while CSW (Community Social Worker) is somewhat a protagonist, focusing on social, environmental, economic welfare, and advocacy for the disenfranchised. There is the LCSW, who is a licensed clinical social worker. Their job is to provide emotional support, counseling, treatment plans, focusing on positive outcomes for the patient.
Social work reference: https://www.socialworkers.org/News/Facts/Types-of-Social-Work#:~:text=%29-,Health%20Care
Harvey didn’t get the negative marque that stuck with many social workers because he went into the schools and the homes, identifying with many clients of the same racial backgrounds simply by being black…
“Once I started noticing the similarities of community,” he said. “We call them where I’m from, we call them generational curses, right? Where people are kinda living the same kind of lifestyle over, and over, and over again, generation to generation, and generation, between poverty and… criminal activity, and those kinds of things, those kinds of communities-- and I was seeing it all over the city of Charlotte.
It was things that I saw growing up around Atlanta. It was things I seen in my own family from what I thought was normal, and didn’t realize how abnormal, and how much of a determinate it was to (community). I wanted to go back to school. I wanted to understand more about why people are choosing the lifestyles they are, and so that’s my very short version of how I got into social work in general, and how I got into becoming a therapist in 2013 when I graduated Winthrop University with my Masters in social work.”
Harvey is LCSW, LISW-CP with his own mental health practice Choose B.E.T.T.R. 4U, PLC providing services in North and South Carolina. He’s founder of BMTCLT 501c3, nonprofit, bridging the gap between men of color who are seeking license, licensed or searching for relatable services which is still somewhat cliché in terms of Black men, reaching out for help. However, Harvey is hopeful to change the mindset and stigmas surrounding that.
Harvey is bringing his knowledge to Living Waters 2023 Black Youth Summit, to strum up dialogue, engage, and ask questions with panelist as well as the audience comprising the youth and their parents.
Living Waters Inc is a faith-based non-profit, that connects community to resources through parallel alliances.
Click below to watch entire interview: