In San Marcos' Dunbar Neighborhood, a historically Black community, Harvey Miller once stood at the intersections of MLK Drive and LBJ Drive, streets named after men who fought for the same rights Miller spent his life advocating for. The intersection symbolized a crossroads for American history and held deep significance to him.
Harvey Miller, 'the good looking fella', was a civil rights leader and activist based in the city until his death on Sept. 1. He is nationally remembered for his discovery of the MLK and LBJ intersection, the only one in the country. Now, ahead of 'Harvey Miller Day' on Nov. 7, friends and family are remembering Harvey Miller for the man he was and his accomplishments.
Harvey Miller lived in San Marcos for over 50 years. He dedicated his life to representing underprivileged communities and running the Dunbar Heritage Association. He was honored with a perpetual plaque located at the San Marcos Activity Center.
When Harvey Miller moved to San Marcos in 1966, he had already made a name for himself in Georgetown, Texas, after speaking out and fighting for integration into schools. Upon moving to San Marcos, he was hired at Gary Job Corps and worked there for over 30 years. Mittie Miller, Harvey Miller's daughter, says during that time, he encouraged San Marcos to celebrate Juneteenth, which led to the founding of the Dunbar Heritage Association.
"We use the name Dunbar because basically, we were dealing with the Dunbar neighborhood," Mittie Miller said. "The Dunbar heritage association was started to celebrate the holidays like Martin Luther King, Juneteenth, Black History Month, and also we did give scholarships back then, but the main purpose was just to more celebrate the Black holidays.”
Harvey Miller not only reintroduced Juneteenth celebrations to the city but also pushed for the recognition of Black History Month and MLK Day. Diane Insley, the San Marcos Library director, says Harvey Miller spent much of his time at the library researching African American history.
“Harvey has always been interested in history; that was one of his hobbies,” Insley said. “He would do research on both local history and state history; he was quite knowledgeable about the overall African American experience and African American history. He knew so much about it because he had lived it."
Alex Banbury, president of the Dunbar Heritage Association and Harvey Miller’s grandson, says Harvey Miller’s curiosities are what led him to discover the MLK and LBJ intersection.
“He said it was like [Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Baines Johnson] were shaking hands,” Banbury said. “He did a lot of research to find out that was the only intersection in the state of those names. They decided that there should be a memorial or some kind of monument on that corner, so, he played a major role in a lot of research to find out if that was the only intersection.”
Banbury says it is not surprising that Harvey Miller left an impact on a wide scale, especially now that he has taken the place of the Dunbar Heritage Association's president due to Harvey Miller’s passing. In a way, Banbury says, assuming the role has allowed him to better understand who his grandfather was as a person.
“Being an activist in San Marcos, I’ve learned more now than I've ever learned about my grandfather,” Banbury said. “Luckily, he saved a lot of clippings and a lot of history of the city of San Marcos and a lot of stuff he was doing. I'm able now to dig through the clippings and just learn who he is. As I’m learning more about him, this makes me want to be more like him, more active.”
Through his activism, Harvey Miller made friends with many people, such as Elvin Holt, a fellow activist and English professor at Texas State. The two were friends for over 30 years.
“Mr. Miller was exceedingly outgoing, very positive; he loved to joke a lot,” Holt said. “He was just the kind of person, as we say, who never met a stranger, he was very easy to get along with.”
In memory of their friendship, Holt keeps pamphlets Harvey Miller made over the years.
“We were both interested in preserving the history of African Americans here in San Marcos,” Holt said. "He did his best to discover documents that related to Black people in San Marcos, and he would publish, do self-publishing, some of those documents. Every year at the MLK event he would sell little pamphlets on African American history that he made himself. And I still have several of the pamphlets that he put together over the years.”
Harvey Miller was an important activist who accomplished a great deal in the San Marcos community, but he meant the world to his family.
“He was very supportive, he was caring, of course, he was loving,” Mittie Miller said. “He was very giving, he was a provider. He had four girls, but he spoiled each one of us in his own way.”
Due to COVID-19, Banbury says the Dunbar Heritage Association cannot give Harvey Miller a proper celebration for his birthday or for Harvey Miller Day, but he already has made plans for next year.
“For 2021, I wanted to do a festival down at Dunbar, at the park,” Banbury said. “Do some community collapse around the Dunbar area and remember his name, and I feel it’s very important to keep people aware of who he is because he did so much for the city of San Marcos, and if we don’t, he’ll just pretty much be forgotten.”
Despite his fears of Harvey Miller's legacy fading, Banbury says his grandfather has been a prominent source of inspiration and pride for his family and will be for the rest of their lives.
“I’m the oldest grandchild, and I remember growing up just feeling like my grandfather was a superstar; I kind of felt special because it was like... that's my grandfather, he's the one that did this. All of his grandchildren, we walk around like, ‘yeah that’s Harvey Miller, you should know him,’” Banbury said.