By Neil Strebig
Bernice Curry Brady doesn’t let age define who she is. The Fineview-native and recent 2015 Harriet Tubman Guild Centennial honoree continues to help preserve and give back to the Northside community.
“Northside is the way it is because of people like her,” Patrice Buck, neighbor and friend, said.
Buck has known Brady since the LBJ administration where the two met serving on the anti-poverty programs here at local churches throughout the community. They were “tough, tough times” as Buck recalled.
Buck helped create the Fineview Citizens Council, and admits it is pioneers like Brady who helped make the Northside what it is today.
Brady, 91, is the second oldest in a family of seven. She notes her family and upbringing as a large contributing factor to the person she is and why she feels the need to give back.
“I feel it is fruitful and it is a blessing (to give back). It is needed. Your blessings come from your giving,” Brady said.
Along with being a part of the Harriet Tubman Guild, Brady is also a member of the oldest African-American congregation in the city, the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Central Northside. She has been a pillar of support for those in need, especially in the church’s soup kitchen.
Brady considers it a “huge honor” to not just be Vice President of the Emanon Chapter, but a member of the Harriet Tubman Guild; to her it symbolizes so much, for women, African-Americans and the community to be involved in such an organization.
“This generation isn’t interested (in helping their community). They have less family influence to encourage them to stop the violence and do something meaningful in life,” Brady said. “Reach out to someone who is hurting- make life better for you and them and the world in general.”
Both the Guild and Metropolitan Baptist Church are an integral part of preserving the community, especially Brady’s native Fineview community. Uniquely, Brady considers her membership to both as simply her best effort to help give back to the community that has presented her so much happiness during her lifetime. Albeit, she admits both need to do a better job of gaining the attention of a younger generation of women if they want to stay relevant and maintain the history.
Brady recalls how much the area has changed, but stresses the importance of keeping the history alive. She remembers walking by the Metz Castle in Fineview, reaching up and picking off fresh fruit hanging over the estate’s fence on her way to school. It is memories like these that she cherishes and wants to ensure the next generation has the ability to remember their own stories so keenly.
“Where there is a need and you can serve; pull up your rims and volunteer to do it,” she said.
It’s that type of spirit that has garnered Brady the respect from her peers and community at large, and what makes her such a vital part of the groups she’s a part of.
Photo courtesy of Fineview Citizens Council
Neil Strebig is a Northsider and student intern attending Point Park.