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Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris

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Information about Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris

Profile image of Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Major General

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
Let your reach far exceed your grasp.

Birthplace

Born:
1/16/1943
Birth Location:
Houston, Texas

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Major General

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
Let your reach far exceed your grasp.

Birthplace

Born:
1/16/1943
Birth Location:
Houston
See how Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Major General Marcelite J. Harris was born in Houston, Texas on January 16, 1943 to Cecil O’Neal Jordan and Marcelite Terrell Jordan, Sr. Harris graduated from Kashmere Gardens High School before attending Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1960. After graduating from Spelman with her B.A. degree in speech and drama in 1964, Harris enrolled at Lackland Air Force Base for military training and then joined the Women in the Air Force (WAF) program. She also earned her B.S. degree in business management from the University of Maryland.

Harris enrolled in an Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois in 1970. One year later, Harris was named a maintenance supervisor for the 49th Tactical Fighter Squadron at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. She successively held the positions of job control officer and field maintenance supervisor at the 916th Air Refueling Squadron at Travis Air Force Base in California. In 1975, Harris was named personnel staff officer and White House social aide under the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter presidential administrations before becoming an air officer commanding for the Cadet Squadron 39 at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Harris then served as the maintenance control officer for the 384th Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. She was the first woman to hold the post of commander of the 384th Avionics Maintenance Squadron at the McConnell Air Force Base in 1981 before assuming the role of commander for the 384th Field Maintenance Squadron. In 1982, Harris was named the director of maintenance at the Pacific Air Forces Logistic Support Center at Kadena Air Base in Japan. Four years later, she became deputy commander for maintenance at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. Harris was the first women to hold the positions in those just listed.

In 1990, Harris took the position of vice commander for the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base and later became the director of technical training at the Air Education and Training Command Headquarters at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. In 1994, Harris was named director of maintenance at the U.S. Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Before retiring from the Air Force, Harris helped to establish a permanent office for the Committee on Women in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), within its military committee.

Harris’s tenure with the Air Force saw her rise from the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1965 to Major General thirty years later, becoming the first ever African American Female General.
Harris joined the United States Alliance as Director of Operations Support and Logistics Processes in 1999. She also served a brief time as the chief of staff for New York Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. In 2010, Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a member of the Board of Visitors for the United States Air Force Academy. She has been featured in Ebony and was the recipient of the Trailblazer Award by the Black Girls Rock Foundation. Harris is listed in many Who’s Who publications.

Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 21, 2012.

Harris passed away on September 7, 2018.

See how Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marcelite Harris' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marcelite Harris lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marcelite Harris describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marcelite Harris talks about her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marcelite Harris describes her maternal great-great grandfather's life as a slave and his success as a blacksmith as a free man
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marcelite Harris talks about her mother's growing up in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marcelite Harris describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marcelite Harris talks about her parents' education and their life in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marcelite Harris talks about how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marcelite Harris talks about her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marcelite Harris describes her likeness to her father and Pilgrim Congregational Church
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marcelite Harris describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marcelite Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marcelite Harris talks about her experience in elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marcelite Harris talks about her personality and her interests as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marcelite Harris talks about her family's first television set
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marcelite Harris describes her experience in junior high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marcelite Harris talks about attending high school in Houston during the era of segregation, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marcelite Harris talks about attending high school in Houston during the era of segregation, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marcelite Harris talks about her favorite teacher in high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marcelite Harris talks about her experience in high school and going to the senior prom
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marcelite Harris describes her extracurricular activities in high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marcelite Harris describes her decision to attend Spelman College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marcelite Harris talks about here experience at Spelman College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marcelite Harris talks about majoring in speech and drama at Spelman College and President Kennedy's assassination
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marcelite Harris discusses the Civil Rights Movement and her involvement in the Student Movement while attending Spelman College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marcelite Harris discusses the Civil Rights Movement and the Student Movement in Atlanta in the early 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marcelite Harris talks about Lonnie C. King, Jr., and reflects upon the problems faced by the African American community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marcelite Harris talks about looking for a job in theatre, law school, and becoming a teacher in the Head Start Program
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marcelite Harris describes her decision to join the U.S. Air Force in 1965
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marcelite Harris describes her experience in officer training school at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marcelite Harris talks about her assignment in the 60th Military Airlift Wing at Travis AFB
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marcelite Harris talks about her assignment at the 71st Tactical Mission Squadron at Bitburg Air Base in West Germany
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marcelite Harris talks about her experience as an African American and as a woman in the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marcelite Harris talks about being titled as 'Miss Zero Defects' at Bitburg Air Base in West Germany
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marcelite Harris talks about being assigned as a maintenance analysis officer and the role of women in the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marcelite Harris talks about her experience at maintenance officer school at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marcelite Harris talks about her experience as maintenance supervisor for the 49th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Thailand
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marcelite Harris talks about having to fire a master sergeant
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marcelite Harris recalls handling a difficult situation concerning the inspection of ten F-4 planes
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marcelite Harris explains how on-the-job training helped develop her leadership skills
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marcelite Harris comments on the war in Vietnam
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marcelite Harris describes her experience as job control officer at Travis Air Force Base
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marcelite Harris talks about taking charge of the field maintenance squadron
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marcelite Harris explains her supervisor's philosophy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marcelite Harris talks about standards in the military that were aimed at blacks and their hair
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marcelite Harris comments on the lack of recognition for black culture in the military
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marcelite Harris talks about being a member of the Air Force Management Improvement Group
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marcelite Harris talks about being a White House aide and being promoted to Major
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marcelite Harris talks about her experience as Air Office Commanding at the Air Force Academy, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marcelite Harris talks about her experience as Air Office Commanding at the Air Force Academy, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marcelite Harris talks about her marriage to her husband
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marcelite Harris describes her promotion to lieutenant colonel and the birth of her daughter
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Marcelite Harris talks about her performance reports and being commander of Pack Aff Aircraft Logistics
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Marcelite Harris talks about her assignment to Keesler Air Force Base in 1986
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marcelite Harris talks about the publicity she and her family received after she was promoted to brigadier general
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marcelite Harris discusses the roadblocks to her promotion as Major General
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marcelite Harris discusses her participation in NATO's Committee on Women, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Marcelite Harris discusses her participation in NATO's Committee on Women, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Marcelite Harris talks about her retirement, her high blood pressure and the death of her husband
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marcelite Harris discusses her post retirement activities, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Marcelite Harris discusses her post retirement activities, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Marcelite Harris talks about her political plans and activities
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Marcelite Harris describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Marcelite Harris talks about the burdens for minorities in the military and befriending Daniel "Chappie" James
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Marcelite Harris reflects upon her legacy and her regrets
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Marcelite Harris discusses her family and how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Marcelite Harris describes her photographs