Activist And History-Maker Dead At 85

Reported by: Amanda Stevenson
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Updated: 11/29/2012 6:52 pm
He was an activist, a history-maker, and a former Harlem Globetrotter.

Harry Sykes died Wednesday at the age of 85.

In 1963, he became the first African American in Lexington history to be elected city commissioner.

Sykes held the office for four consecutive terms, and nabbed enough votes to become vice-mayor in the process.

His wife of 61 years, Geraldine Sykes, said her husband was also an avid civil rights activist.

"We would have marches downtown. My husband always participated by walking," she recalled.

Sykes played for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1952 to 1954 after a basketball career at what is now Kentucky State University.

After leaving the Globetrotters, the activist became a teacher--he taught at Dunbar High School in Lexington until 1963, when he made the move to politics.

He later founded the Lexington Fayette County Urban Youth League.

On October 25th, 2012, Mayor Jim Gray announced the day as 'Harry Sykes Day', in honor of the man's many accomplishments and contributions to the community.

Sykes died just over a month later.

His funeral will be held at Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church on December 3rd at 6 p.m.

The church is located at 540 West Maxwell Street, Lexington, KY 40508.
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