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Rutgers Oral History Archives

  • College/Year: RC '50
  • Links to Oral History Sessions: Grimsley, Harvey Part 1 (May 21, 2019)
  • Conflict(s): World War II
  • Military Branch & Unit: Army
  • Theater(s): European


Harvey Grimsley was born in Haleburg, Alabama in 1922. His family fled the racial oppression and violence of the Jim Crow-era South and moved to New Jersey during his childhood.

Grimsley attended schools in Bloomfield and then Orange, where his relative Monte Irvin also grew up. Irvin went on to play professional baseball and became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Grimsley graduated from Orange High School in 1942.

During World War II, Grimsley was drafted. He served overseas in Europe in the segregated U.S. Army in an all-Black transportation unit. He and his unit partook in D-Day, the Allied invasion of German-occupied Normandy on June 6, 1944, and landed on Utah Beach. In 1945-'46, Grimsley attended Biarritz American University in Europe and played on the university's integrated basketball team.

After being discharged from the Army, Grimsley was recruited to play football at Rutgers, which he attended on the GI Bill. Between '46 and '49, Grimsley distinguished himself as the Scarlet Knight's leading scorer, despite never starting a game under coach Harvey Harman.

After graduating in the Rutgers College Class of 1950, Grimsley spent his career working as a coach, including being a high school coach in Newark and Piscataway and working as a recruiter for Governors State University in Chicago. He was inducted into the Rutgers Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.

Targum Cover 11 22 1963a


"HERE IS A BULLETIN...": Memories of the Day Camelot Died


This month marks the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

Images from that day and the events that followed remain etched in our collective consciousness—the open-top Presidential limo traveling down the people-lined streets of Dallas; President Lyndon Baines Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One beside a shaken First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy; John, Jr. saluting his father's passing casket at the funeral in DC.

Those who lived through that traumatic period can recall both their initial shock and the nuances of their reactions.

In "HERE IS A BULLETIN...": Memories of the Day Camelot Died, ROHA presents a sampling of stories related to the Kennedy tragedy, a touchstone event for multiple generations.

The Rutgers Targum (campus newspaper) cover from its November 22, 1963 issue. (Image courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.)


Voices of Veterans Banner 1

Voices of Veterans


Voices of Veterans is an online exhibit showcasing passages from oral history interviews of veterans who served in the Second World War and in wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. ROHA created this exhibit in commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941.