Curtis W. Harris

Curtis West Harris, Sr. (born July 1, 1924 in Dendron, Virginia) is a minister, civil rights activist, and politician in Virginia.

Civil Rights Work

Harris' civil rights work began in 1960 with his stint as President of the Hopewell chapter of the NAACP. In 1960, he was arrested and sentenced to 60 days in jail for his role in a sit-in at a segregated drugstore in Hopewell, Virginia. Later in that year, he protested the segregation of the Hopewell swimming pool, which eventually led to the pool's closure.

In 1960, he initiated the Hopewell Improvement Association, an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was elected Vice President.. He was named to the Board of Directors of the National SCLC in 1961 while Martin Luther King, Jr. was president. Harris worked with Dr. King on many civil rights initiatives, including the Selma to Montgomery marches. Harris cites Dr. King as one of his mentors in the civil rights movement. He served as president of the Virginia State Unit of SCLC from 1963 - 1998, and was elected the National SCLC Vice President in 2005.

In 1987, he led a march against discrimination in Colonial Heights, Virginia. In 1996, he filed a discrimination complaint against a Fort Lee, Virginia military unit.

Other Professional Work

Curtis W. Harris was ordained a Baptist minister in 1959.. On December 16, 2007, he retired as pastor of the Union Baptist Church in Hopewell, Virginia after forty-six years. He was elected to the Hopewell City Council in 1986, and was sworn in as Hopewell's first African American mayor in 1998. Rev. Harris remains active in his community and is still a member of the Hopewell City Council.

Rev. Harris was elected to the Hopewell City Council in 1986 and in 1998, he was sworn in as the first African-American mayor of Hopewell.


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