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Bishop Barbara Harris

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Information about Bishop Barbara Harris

Profile image of Bishop Barbara Harris

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Bishop

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Sweet Potatoes
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cruises
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/12/1930
Birth Location:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Bishop

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Sweet Potatoes
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cruises
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/12/1930
Birth Location:
Philadelphia
See how Bishop Barbara Harris is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris was born on June 12, 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Harris grew up in Germantown, a neighborhood of Philadelphia. Her mother, Beatrice Price Harris, played the organ for St. Baranabas Church and her father, Walter Harris, was a steel worker. While attending Philadelphia High School for Girls, where she excelled in music, Harris wrote a weekly column called High School Notes by Bobbi for the Philadelphia edition of the Pittsburgh Courier, an African American newspaper. After graduating from high school in 1948, she attended the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism. She earned a certificate from Charles Morris Price in 1950. In later years, Harris would study at Villanova University and the Episcopal Divinity School.

As a member of the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity (ESCRU) since the late 1950s, Harris served on a number of diocesan committees. In the 1960s, she helped to form the Union of Black Clergy and Laity which was subsequently called the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE). She was a member of the St. Dismas Fellowship and served on the board of the Pennsylvania Prison Society. During the summer of 1964, Harris volunteered with Delta Ministries in Greenville, Mississippi, educating and registering voters. In 1974, she advocated for the ordination of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” a group of women who had been ordained priests, but were labeled "irregular" by the Anglican Communion. By 1976, the church began to admit women priests and, in October 1980, Harris was ordained as a priest. After her ordination, she served as priest at St. Augustine of Hippo Church and as chaplain of Philadelphia County Prison.

In 1984, Harris was appointed executive director of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company, molding the social direction of the Episcopal Church. Known for her strong advocacy for social justice, Harris was elected in 1988 as the consecrated Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, becoming the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion. She served as bishop until 2002 when she retired at the age of seventy-two. Harris is the recipient of numerous honors including an honorary degree from Yale University's Divinity School and the 2007 Wisdom Award from the National Visionary Leadership Project. After suffering a stroke in 2010, Harris made a full recovery and still advocates for social change.

Bishop Barbara Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 12, 2007.

See how Bishop Barbara Harris is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bishop Barbara Harris' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bishop Barbara Harris lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls her maternal grandparents' occupations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls her mother's musical talent
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bishop Barbara Harris shares a story about her father, Walter Harris
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her parents' personalities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bishop Barbara Harris talks about her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls the congregation at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes the role of music in her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bishop Barbara Harris remembers her column, High School Notes by Bobbi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bishop Barbara Harris remembers Negro History Week
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her experiences at Edwin H. Fitler School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls her experiences of integrated education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes the racial discrimination at the Philadelphia High School for Girls
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her early musical aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Bishop Barbara Harris remembers her childhood heroines
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bishop Barbara Harris talks her educational experiences after high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls how she was hired at Joseph V. Baker Associates
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her role at Joseph V. Baker Associates
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bishop Barbara Harris remembers Joseph V. Baker
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls her month working at the Delta Ministry in 1964
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her experience with the Delta Ministry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls police intimidation during the Civil Rights movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls the 1964 Democratic National Convention
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her involvement in Episcopal organizations, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her involvement in Episcopal organizations, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her early role in the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls her role in the ordination of female Episcopal priests
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bishop Barbara Harris remembers her calling to the ministry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls studying for her ordination examinations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bishop Barbara Harris explains her role as a deacon in the Episcopal Church
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls her ordination to the priesthood
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls her nomination to the episcopate
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her fellow nominees to the episcopate
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls African American bishops who preceded her
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes the electoral process for bishops
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bishop Barbara Harris remembers the response to her election as bishop
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bishop Barbara Harris talks about Leontine T. Kelly
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes the objections to her consecration as bishop
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls lingering resistance to her status as bishop
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bishop Barbara Harris talks about the role of the Episcopal Church in Africa
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Bishop Barbara Harris recalls her travels to South Africa as bishop
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bishop Barbara Harris talks about South African Anglicans
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her theology of inclusivity
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bishop Barbara Harris reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bishop Barbara Harris reflects upon her career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bishop Barbara Harris reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bishop Barbara Harris talks about her retirement and family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bishop Barbara Harris reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Bishop Barbara Harris talks about the divisions with Christianity
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Bishop Barbara Harris describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Bishop Barbara Harris narrates her photographs