Andrea Harris - On building relationships and bridging dividesInterviewed by Hudson Vaughan and Wyatt Woodson and Kathryn Wall and Yvonne Cleveland and George Barrett and Virginia Carson and Brentton Harrison and Mark McDaniel and Kathy Atwater on January 3, 2020
In her oral history, Andrea Harris discusses her parents and growing up in Henderson, NC. She attended segregated schools and went to Bennett College, where she began her community organizing career by experiencing first-hand the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. King and the became aware of the organizing efforts of Herman Gist. She returned to Henderson where she quickly established a reputation as an organizer and, at the age of 23, became executive director of an organization that established transportation networks for seniors in rural areas. From there she pursued a career dedicated to promoting economic development in poor, black communities. Her path led to major positions in government, and her organizational prowess, namely the ability to bring together key players in government, higher education and private industry, led to the establishment of the Institute -- an organization that promotes black business growth in Durham. A major theme in her interview is the importance of building relationships and bridging divides to solve big problems: “The key is not being afraid to ask. People really want to help. Don’t fear making mistakes. If it doesn’t work, try again.”
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