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Remembering Harvard

The following tribute was written and read by Harvard's sister, Nia, at a campus memorial service for Deshaun and Harvard.

Harvard Clarence Nabrit Stephens was born in New York City on the blazing day August 23, 1977, the first child of young doctors, Harvard William and Barbara Anne Nabrit-Stephens. Soon after the birth of his first sister, Nia Charlotte, the growing family moved to New Jersey, then on to Gadsden, Alabama, where the Stephens’ second daughter, Yakini Anne, was born. There young Harvard began his sterling academic career.

In a few years the family moved on to Tennessee, where Harvard’s only beloved brother Marcus was born. Harvard matriculated through the Nashville school system, an honor student at all levels. He was the first of the Stephens children to attend Martin Luther King Junior Magnet School for Health Sciences and Engineering, a first among many firsts. He was his class’ first president, in the academic year 1989-1990. He was the first student from MLK to be a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Competition and win the National Achievement Scholarship. When he graduated in 1995, he became the first student from MLK to attend Harvard University.

Harvard was an honored participant in several organizations. He was a member of the student council throughout high school. While in high school, he led the Black History Quiz Bowl and the wrestling team to victory. In college, he was the president of Boston’s Black Scientists and Engineers, and a prominent member of Harvard University’s Black Student Union. Harvard taught Vacation Bible School when he was in high school; Harvard taught computer skills to under-privileged children in a Boston Middle School while attending Harvard. He joined Progressive Baptist Church in the summer of 1994, and remained a member until his death, July 3, 1997.

Harvard Stephens will be remembered not only by his loving parents, sisters, and brother, but by his grandparents, Henry and Veronica Nabrit, his great-grandmother, Lula B. Smith, his aunts, uncles, and cousins, and by all who knew him: his friends, teachers and students.

Jack London once said that he would rather be a fiery comet, blazing brightly in the heavens for but a short time, than a dull and dreary planet circling the cosmos for eternity. Nonetheless, London lived twice as long as Harvard, one of the brightest lights in the lives of those that knew him. London did not know at the time, but comets continue to exist after they disappear. They seem short lived to those on Earth, as they visit rarely and only for a short time. But their observers should be comforted that somewhere in the universe, their comet continues to blaze.

Harvard leaves to cherish his memory: parents, Drs. Harvard W. and Barbara Nabrit-Stephens; sisters, Nia C. and Yakini A. Stephens; brother, Marcus N. Stephens; grandparents Dr. and Mrs. H. Clark Nabrit and the late Mr. and Mrs. Harmon A. Stephens; great-grandmother, Lula B. Smith; an aunt, Mrs. Ollie S. Woods, Atlanta, GA; uncles, Presley W. (Della) Stephens, Newall, AL, Willie A. Stephens, Tuskegee, AL, James F. Stephens, Atlanta, GA, Charles M. (Paula P.) Nabrit, Westerville, OH and Henry C. Nabrit, Los Angeles, CA; great aunts, Mrs. Cecelia Adkins, Mrs. Lois Clark and Mrs. Gertrude Thomas; and many other relatives and friends.

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