Father Donald McIlvane, Dec. 19, 1925–Feb. 16, 2014


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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Group portrait of four men, including reporter to left, Reverend Jimmy Joe Robinson, William “Bouie” Haden, second from right, and Reverend Donald McIlvane on right, outside large church or city building, July–August 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.4693 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

The Rev. Donald McIlvane, a retired Roman Catholic priest and staunch ally to the underserved, passed away February 16, 2014. Father McIlvane was not only a worldwide religious leader, but unquestionably, a compassionate Civil Rights soldier, as well. Although Rev. McIlvane was an unlikely candidate to become a radical priest, having come from a well-to-do family, he served and lived alongside the needy, suffering many similar life experiences, even to the point of being mugged.

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Protesters, possibly including Nate Smith on megaphone in front of, others, including James McCoy, Matthew Moore Sr., Vince Matthews, Herbert Bean, Dr. Charles Greenlee, Rev. Donald McIlvane, Charles Kendall, Charles Michaels, Mike Desmond, Byrd Brown, Gabby Russell, and Pauline Hall demonstrating against discrimination at US Steel in front of Union Trust Building, Downtown, June 1966, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.5867 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

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Protesters, including Rev. Donald McIlvane, and other ministers, picketing slum housing in front of Rittle Rosfeld Real Estate Company, East Street near intersection of Shawano, with Weimer Tire, Four Roses billboard, and Veebee’s Cafe in background, North Side, 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.7113 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

He was once quoted as saying “Martin Luther King had more influence on me than any leader in my life.” In fact he was so influenced by Dr. King, that he joined him in Civil Rights protests nationwide. His human rights efforts spanned six decades, including monitoring South Africa’s post-apartheid election, to which Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected leader.

Here in Pittsburgh, Rev. McIlvane was often seen in his clerical collar, taking part in meetings, hearings, rallies, or protest marches—all in the quest for human rights. On a personal note, I knew Father McIlvane as a youngster. I remember how diligently he worked beside my father and other local Civil Rights leaders. He impressed me as a person who would do anything to see that justice was given to everyone, be they young, old, white, black, rich or poor—he loved all people, and they felt that from him. Teenie Harris captures the essence of this dedicated servant in these dynamic photographs.

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Nannie L. Carrington and Houston Dargan carrying signs reading “We protest discriminatory seniority units at U.S. Steel”, with Father Donald McIlvane in background, leading picketers against segregation at U.S. Steel in front of Union Trust building, on Grant Street, downtown, June 1966, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.5826 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

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The 2900 Webster Avenue Block Club including in front row: Mrs. McClanahan, Lena Davis, Thelma Lovette, Lucille Anderson, Jessie Lyons, Georgia Murray, and Norvie Dolphin; back row: James Reynolds, Beatrice Bankstown, Father McIlvane, and Emily Davis at the Davis house at 2931 Webster Avenue, Hill District, 1966, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.13088 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

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Bride Victoria Janice Brown wearing pillbox style headpiece with mid length veil, and groom Leon Bryan Jr. wearing eyeglasses, facing Elder Nelson A. Bliss and Father Donald W. McIlvane, gathered at altar in St. Richard Roman Catholic Church, July 1966, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.19625 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive