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Collection Title: Harris (Anthony J.) Civil Rights Memoir

Collection Number: M369

Dates: 1998

Volume: 1 item, 6 pages

Provenance: Donated by Dr. Anthony J. Harris in 1998.

Restrictions: Available for research use by the serious student and scholar.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Dr. Anthony Jerome Harris is an African-American who was born on October 26, 1953 in Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The son of James, Sr. and Daisy Harris (Wade), Dr. Harris became a Civil Rights activist as a teenager, participating in Freedom Summer and demonstrating for voter registration rights in downtown Hattiesburg. The second of three brothers, Harris grew up under the stalwart direction of their mother, who was a prominent leader of civil rights activities and Secretary of the Forrest County NAACP in the 1960’s.

Dr. Harris was among the first to desegregate W.I. Thames Junior High School in 1966 and after graduating from Rowan High School in 1971, Dr. Harris continued his education at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), graduating only nine years after the University was integrated. Throughout the 1970’s he completed a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in counseling, and became a counselor at USM from 1976-’79.

While attending the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Harris married Smithenia Frazier of Port, Gibson, Mississippi, in 1977. Two children were born of the union – Ashley and Michael. Aside from his family life and contributions to the field of education, Dr. Harris enjoys running and listening to jazz music.

In 1979, Dr. Harris attended Texas A&M – Commerce, where he received his doctorate in counseling in 1982. In 1983, Harris became the director of the counseling center at Commerce, and in 1993, he added to his duties at Commerce by serving as assistant to the President. He continued this dual role until 1999, when he returned to Hattiesburg to serve as the executive assistant to the president of the University of Southern Mississippi. In 2002, Dr. Harris returned to Texas as an associate professor in the department of Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University, where he continues to work today.

Throughout his professional career, Dr. Anthony Harris has provided leadership to various organizations in many capacities, such as director of Project Keep Hope Alive and vice-president of the National African-American Male Collaboration. Dr. Harris was a W.K. Kellogg Fellow from 1988-’91; a regional finalist for the White House Fellowship Program; a mentor for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for Education Leadership Program; and a member of the Task Force on Women and Minorities in Higher Education for Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Most recently, Dr. Harris has completed a manuscript on his recollections of the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for which he is currently seeking a publisher.

Scope and Content:

The collection is a six-page memoir of the events from the early teenage years of Dr. Anthony J. Harris (circa 1964), to his days in graduate school (1977). The experiences include: the arrest of himself, his brother James, and a friend for underage picketing of the Forrest County Courthouse on behalf of black voter registration ... and how his mother rescued them; the role he played in the desegregation in Hattiesburg public schools; a visit from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the city of Hattiesburg; hosting and housing Civil Rights workers from other states; his first encounters with white people; and finally, an enduring racial presence at the Forrest County Courthouse in the late 1970’s.

Related Collections:

M351 Randall (Herbert) Photos
M334 Wade (Daisy Harris) Papers


Created by: Yvonne Arnold
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Revised: February 24, 2010