HARRISBURG – Fenêtre Gallery at HACC’s Midtown 2 site is celebrating the life of The Honorable K. Leroy Irvis with a woodcarvings exhibit that continues through Nov. 8, 2012.
Irvis was a statesman, orator, teacher, human rights activist, and poet, as well as an artist. In 1977, he became the first African-American Speaker of the House in Pennsylvania and the first black speaker of any state house since Reconstruction.
Irvis also was the driving force in developing Pennsylvania’s community college system, with HACC being the first community college in Pennsylvania. Irvis also helped create legislation establishing the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and Equal Opportunity Program and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In 2003, the South Office Building within the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex was renamed the Speaker K. Leroy Irvis Office Building. Irvis died in March, 2006.
Irvis earned a master’s degree in education from New York State Teachers College, after which he taught high school in Baltimore. World War II interrupted his teaching career, at which point he became a civilian flying instructor for the War Department. After the war, Irvis moved to Pittsburgh and became active with the Urban League.
He led a demonstration against discriminatory employment practices at Pittsburgh department stores. It was the first demonstration of its kind in American history.
In 1954, Irvis received a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and worked for two judges as the first black clerk of the Court of Common Pleas in Pittsburgh. Later, he held a post as assistant district attorney for Allegheny County.
In 1958, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where he served for 30 years.
The woodcarvings exhibit features a combination of simple and elegant portrait busts and whimsical, mythological creatures.
Fenêtre Gallery is on the second floor of HACC’s Midtown 2 at 1500 Third St. Entrance to the building is on Reily. The gallery is open on Thursdays from 5-7 p.m., Fridays from 6-8 p.m. and the third Friday of the month by appointment. Events are free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Kim Banister, gallery coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-780-2435.