'The Butler,' Part Two: P.G. County Resident Served Presidents and Superstars
Stacy M. Brown | 10/2/2013, 3 p.m.
While the movie “Lee Daniels' The Butler” continues to garner Academy Award talk and has blazed passed the $100 million mark in gross revenues, the film has opened the eyes of America to other pioneers who paved the way to equality.
Those other pioneers include Harvey T. Lewis, a Virginia native and Capitol Heights, Md., resident who literally drove to his destiny, serving as a United States government special assistant to presidential cabinet appointees, a driver for White House and elected officials and a chauffeur and owner of his own limousine company.
“He’s seen a lot and he’s handsome and charming,” said Lewis’ wife, Linda Ivey Lewis.
More than that, the 95-year-old Lewis has served in World War II and, among those he’s chauffeured, includes civil rights icon Rosa Parks, music and stage legend Liza Minnelli, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, actor Will Smith and comedian Martin Lawrence.
“He went to the school of hard knocks,” said Linda Lewis, who’s 35 years her husband’s junior, but said his intelligence and zest for life makes her leading man appear a whole lot younger.
“I used to go to the White House and sit down during important meetings,” said Harry Lewis, who has worked on every presidential campaign since John F. Kennedy ran for the oval office in 1960. A local television station featured him and his wife while working in 2008, to help elect President Barack Obama.
“They named the story, ‘The Obama Couple,’” Lewis said. “That title was given because Linda and I met and married while volunteering during the campaign in 2008.”
Lewis stood proud as Obama’s oldest volunteer, making calls daily at the Prince George’s County campaign office, going to the battle ground state of Virginia to knock on doors, and attending rallies throughout the state.
“He passed out campaign buttons as if they were candy and he wore campaign hats and T-shirts everywhere he went, even on our honeymoon,” Linda Lewis said.
Despite living in Washington Redskins territory, Harvey Lewis is a life-long Dallas Cowboy fan who proudly wears a Cowboy hat and belt on a regular basis.
“His daughter is sending us to Texas Stadium for his birthday and he’ll sit in (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones’ private box and get to meet him and his favorite player, Tony Romo,” Lewis said.
“He thinks he’s a Texan,” she said, laughing.
Dozens of friends gathered on Sept. 14, to help celebrate Lewis’ 95th birthday at the Bolling Air Force Base Officers Club in Southwest. “That was memorable,” he said. “There was lots of fun and excitement.”
His wife said Lewis has always been a model African-American citizen who achieved the American Dream through hard work and determination. “Harvey is unique. He’s very wise and, as he says, wisdom is something you acquire in life, you’re not born with it,” she said.
Born in Richmond, Va., in 1918, Harvey Lewis moved to Capital Heights as a young adult and has lived in Prince George’s County for more than 75 years.