Hattiesburg, Miss., May 1, 2014 - Dr. Anthony J. Harris, former Civil Rights activist, author, and professor of education at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., spoke to Dr. Josye Brookter’s African American Literature class at William Carey University on April 28. Following the lecture, he held a book signing in the Barnes and Nobles bookstore for two of his books: “Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round: A Coming of Age story and a personal account of the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg, Mississippi” and “Gifts of Moments: Being Somebody to Somebody.” Dr. Harris also recently published a third book, “Fruits of a Disgraced Legacy.”
Dr. Harris, a native of Hattiesburg and a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, was an active participant in the local Civil Rights Movement during his teenage years. He participated in Freedom Summer, protested for voter registration rights in downtown Hattiesburg, and was among the first to desegregate W.I. Thames Junior High School in 1966. The second of three brothers, Dr. Harris grew up under the influence of their mother, who was a prominent leader of civil rights activities and secretary of the Forrest County NAACP in the 1960’s.
After graduating USM with a bachelor’s in Spanish and a master’s in counseling, he moved to Texas, completed his doctorate degree at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University – Commerce), and worked at the university for 17 years in various positions. In 1988, he participated in the Kellogg National Fellowship Program which allowed him to visit 17 countries, primarily in developing and Third World countries. Following the completion of the Fellowship he established Project Keep Hope Alive, a successful after school mentoring program for at-risk African American boys in the Commerce Independent School District.
Dr. Harris returned to his roots briefly, serving as executive assistant to the President at USM under the leadership of the late President Horace Fleming. After leaving USM in 2002, he returned to Texas and taught at Sam Houston State University until 2008. Since 2008, he has lived in Macon with his wife, Smithenia, and taught at Mercer University.