A local political and civil rights icon who put Virginia on the national stage got a major honor.
Dr. Curtis Harris was able to accept the recognition with his family by his side on Fathers’ Day.
Union Baptist Church is where this story begins. Reverend Curtis Harris became a minister there in 1956. So it’s only fitting that this is the place where many have come to honor a living history maker.
Reverend Harris was elected as Hopewell’s first black mayor in 1998. His fight for equality reaches back much further into our history.
“For him to be a part of the Civil Rights movement,” says Harris’ son Michael Harris. “It means everything to Hopewell. It means everything to this state because he’s had a great impact on the entire state.”
And for that struggle, the City of Hopewell bestowed an honor on Reverend Harris and his late wife Dr. Ruth Harris. The city renamed Terminal and Booker Streets after the couple who fought many battles for the people.
“So we are here today to name the streets after Doctor Curtis Harris and Doctor Ruth Harris and it’s going to make official I think what we in Hopewell have known for many years that the Doctors Harris have owned these streets and many more streets in Hopewell much longer than today,” says Hopewell mayor Michael Bujakowski.
Dr. Curtis did not speak, but he was able to bask in the moment of seeing his name on the street he paved for future generations.
“It’s lucky that it fell on Father’s Day and it made it a whole lot more glorious for everybody,” Michael Harris says.
Dr. Harris’ work is so well recognized, he was invited to the State of the Union Address in D.C. in 2012.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond