Again this year, Port Authority of Allegheny County along with the Kingsley Association, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New Pittsburgh Courier, will add two more names to its list of more than 40 celebrated community leaders when it presents the families of the late K. Leroy Irvis and the late Anderson Little with the 2015 Spirit of King Award on Thursday, Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. at the Kingsley Association, located at 6435 Frankstown Ave., in East Liberty.
The honor, awarded posthumously, is given to Pittsburgh area community leaders who have, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., been diligent and committed in their fight to achieve equality.
Irvis, who died March 2006, worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of residents both locally and statewide. He was first elected as the Pennsylvania state Representative of the 19th Legislative District, a position he held for 15 terms. While in office, Irvis was elected to serve as the Democratic Caucus Chairman, making him the first African-American elected to a leadership position, and later as the Majority Caucus Chairman as well as the Minority Whip and Majority leader. Several years later he was unanimously elected to serve as the Speaker of the House, a position he later regained in 1983 and held until his retirement in November 1988.