Community Activist and Veteran Harvey Zeigler Turns 100

Community activist and World War II veteran Harvey Zeigler celebrated his 100th birthday on March 4 at the Damascus Recreation Center.

Zeigler grew up in Damascus, Maryland, which was extremely racially divided at the time, and attended Lincoln High School in Rockville, according to Montgomery County. He encountered discrimination at a young age.

Zeigler was drafted into the United States Army in December of 1941. During his time in the army he served as a private first class in the 329th segregated unit, where his job was to protect soldiers supplies on the front lines.

“I wanted to be patriotic. I wanted to support the United States and the democracy,” Zeigler told MyMCMedia. “Not only that, but this is a wonderful country to live in and I feel like I served my country well.”

After returning to Maryland at age 25, Zeigler joined the NAACP in Montgomery County. At the NAACP Zeigler worked as a youth director to help young African Americans, according to Montgomery County. Zeigler says his experiences growing up and being a part of a large family, where he had to fight for clothes and a place at the dinner table, are what drove him to want to help the youth.

“I wanted to help the underprivileged. I helped a lot of guys that got in trouble and I helped three guys get off of death row,” said Zeigler. “I felt that is was a pretty good thing to do because we have to help the young guys since they are the future.”

Zeigler said he accredits one of his largest accomplishments in life to when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. He worked hard over the course of his life to fight for his rights and what he believed in, so the passing of the legislation was rewarding. In 1963 Zeigler helped organize a Montgomery County group to attend the March on Washington.

“We fought for civil rights and I feel that we helped Montgomery County move towards civil rights,” said Zeigler.

Throughout his life, Zeigler has received many awards including induction into the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame.

“If you don’t get out and fight for what you believe in then you get run over. You have to fight and sweat tears and blood to get what you want, freedom,” said Zeigler. “If you don’t, you won’t get any kind of equality.”

Harvey Zeigler spoke with County Cable Montgomery, MyMCMedia’s PEG partner, in a 2018 interview.


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