Q & A with Harold M. Love, Jr: Love In The House

Harold M. Love, Jr is the pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, Nashville, TN. Love earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Tennessee State University in 1994, a master’s degree in theological studies from Vanderbilt University in 1998. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Public Administration from Tennessee State. Love is a candidate for House District 58. To learn more about or to support his campaign, visit www.loveinthehouse58th.com

HBCUstory: How do you remember Tennessee State University as an undergraduate student?

Harold M. Love, Jr: Those four years were the greatest experience of my life. Tennessee State was an enormous campus with buildings I’d been in as a child with my mother who taught there. As a student, I was a member of the marching band and freshman class government. This is when I learned getting and going to class was a unique challenge, unlike high school where all my classes were in one building. After my freshman year, I was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, Rho Psi chapter. Then life became more complex, I had to learn to balance my extra curricular responsibilities and maintain academic excellence.

HBCUstory: What were your career aspirations after graduating from Tennessee State University in 1994?

Harold M. Love, Jr: I majored in business and I earned my degree in economics and finance. I wanted to go into banking but I reserved the possibility of pursuing a law career. I made the mistake of scheduling the LSAT during homecoming. That year, we played Florida A&M University (FAMU). I heard FAMU’s band coming down the street and for the rest of the exam, my mind was on getting out of the room and enjoying homecoming. Needless to say, I didn’t do as well as I could have  if I had [taken the test another day].

I began pursuing a degree in law, but sometime between fall 1994 and summer 1995, I received my call to ministry. From there everything took a turn, I enrolled in Emory University Candler School of Theology. After my first year, I transferred to Vanderbilt University [and completed my degree].

HBCUstory: What compelled you to attend Tennessee State University for your doctoral degree?

Harold M. Love, Jr: I began pastoring in 1999, at Hopewell AME Church in Columbia, Tennessee. I was looking for a doctoral program, that would allow me to stay close to home. I looked at various universities, but I stumbled upon a certificate program in non-profit management at Tennessee State, I enrolled in the program. While I was there, I learned of the doctoral program in public administration, which I considered, but at that time, I was unsure if it was the degree I wanted to pursue.

Upon completion of the certificate, I immediately volunteered as the chief operating officer for a local childhood learning facility, 18th Avenue Family Enrichment Center, started by my grandmother, Lillian C. Love. I found the skills I learned during the certificate program allowed me to turn the center around. Then in 2009, I decided to enroll in the public administration program.

HBCUstory: Can you name differences in your undergraduate and graduate experiences at Tennessee State University?

Harold M. Love, Jr: I went to class every day as a graduate student. The temptation not to go to class as an undergraduate was strong and I yielded to the temptation several times. Honestly, at that time, I didn’t take education seriously. I wasn’t that I didn’t know or understand the material, I needed to be in class. But varied experiences taught me the value of academic discipline.

HBCUstory: Would you recommend attending an HBCU for graduate studies?

Harold M. Love, Jr: Yes! I believe all African Americans need the HBCU experience. We live in a society where our communities are so diverse. Exposure to the diversity in the African American community is integral. You need the HBCU experience to prepare you for the diversity in the world.

Love and a Tennessee State student participating in the Great American Clean-Up

HBCUstory: Why are you seeking political office?

Harold M. Love, Jr: I am running for elected office because our communities need leaders. Leaders who are aware of current issues and have solutions, not just those who are running to hold office or those who are looking to do something. For me being the pastor of a church for thirteen years, three years in one location, ten in another, being able to look back on a daycare I was blessed to help save from bankruptcy, my church serving as a Red Cross relief site for the floods in 2010 helping 800 families– I know the impact I’ve had on the Nashville community.

In the 58th district, where I’m seeking office, there are three food deserts, all of Nashville’s HBCUs and all but one of the city’s housing projects. We need a transformation in our schools, neighborhoods and workplaces. I am not Superman, but I have access to resources that can be brought together to better the community.

HBCUstory: You’ve run and lost campaigns before, what is “it” that keeps you coming back?

Harold M. Love, Jr: Perseverance. Drawing from the four cardinal principles of Omega Psi Phi. It is about seeing a goal and knowing you can attain it. The last race I ran I lost by fourteen votes. That  isn’t a mandate from the community stating “We don’t want you.” It was an invitation to come back after you’ve shown your dedication to the community. During the four years, since I’ve last ran in 2007, I’ve become better versed in the community’s issues. I answered requests to serve on various boards and committees. This helped prepare the change I hoped to implement in 2007 and will implement in 2012.

HBCUstory: Your campaign principles are “The Love Plan”. What is “The Love Plan”?

Harold M. Love, Jr: I want to improve the quality of life for those who live, work and are educated in the 58th District, through both legislative and non-legislative actions. I believe there are several factors that affect individual and communal quality of life, these are education, economics, environment, health and social conditions. These factors are addressed in The Love Plan. The Love Plan has five components: Live Locally, Welcoming Workplace, Safe Sanctuary, Healthy Habitat, and Educate Exceptionally.

Nashville-Davidson County residents state primary and county general elections will be held August 2, 2012. Early voting dates are July 13-28, 2012. For more information on the upcoming ballot, please visit the Election Commission, here.

HBCUstory does NOT campaign on behalf of, or oppose ANY candidate for political office. However, HBCUstory staff DOES urge its readers to REGISTER TO VOTE, become involved in their local, state and national election processes and VOTE.

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Second year doctoral student, E. Clare Stewart attends the Institute of Public Health at Florida A&M University. Her research interests include health inequities, fatherhood, collegiate health and minority family systems. She received her master of science in public health from Meharry Medical College School of Graduate Studies and Research and a bachelor of arts in biology from Fisk University.