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Robert Lee Harris, Jr.

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Information about Robert Lee Harris, Jr.

Profile image of Robert Lee Harris, Jr.

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
African American History Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Meatloaf
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Chicago, Illinois
Favorite Quote:
I Believe I Can Fly.

Birthplace

Born:
4/23/1943
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
African American History Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Meatloaf
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Chicago, Illinois
Favorite Quote:
I Believe I Can Fly.

Birthplace

Born:
4/23/1943
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Robert Lee Harris, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Professor Robert L. Harris, Jr. was born on April 23, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois to Robert and Ruby Harris. Growing up in Chicago, Harris attended St. Finbarr Elementary School and St. Philip High School. He graduated with his B.A. degree in history in 1966, and then his M.A. degree with honors in history in 1968; both from Roosevelt University. Harris went on to receive his Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1974.

Harris was hired as a sixth grade teacher at Chicago’s St. Rita Elementary School in 1965. Then, in 1968 and 1969, he worked at Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama, as an instructor of social science. In 1972, Harris was hired as an assistant professor of American history at the University of Illinois, where he taught until 1975. He went on to work as an assistant professor of African American history at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University from 1975 until 1982, when he was promoted to associate professor. Harris also served as the director of the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University from 1986 until 1991, and then as special assistant to the provost of Cornell University from 1994 through 2000. He then was named vice provost for diversity and faculty development in 2000, and served in that position until 2008.

In 2004, Harris was promoted to full professor of African American history at Cornell University, and, in 2010, he was again hired as director of the Africana Studies and Research Center. In 2013, Harris was made both a graduate school professor of African and African American Studies and professor emeritus of African American history, American studies, and public affairs.

Harris authored Teaching African-American History, published by the American Historical Association, in 2001. He also co-edited The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939, which was published in 2006. In all, Harris has written thirteen individual book chapters, thirty scholarly articles, and eight dictionary entries. He has served on boards and committees of numerous organizations, including the De Witt Historical Society of Tompkins County, the New York Council for the Humanities, the American Historical Association, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the Organization of American Historians, the Society for History Education, and the National History Center. Harris also served as the president of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History from 1991 until 1992. He has been awarded fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. Harris also received the James A. Perkins Prize in 2000 and the Cook Award in 2008 from Cornell University. In 2003, he was awarded the Carter G. Woodson Scholar’s Medallion for Distinguished Research, Writing and Activism from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Harris is also National Historian for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Robert L. Harris, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 22, 2013.

See how Robert Lee Harris, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. narrates his photographs
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Lee Harris, Jr.'s interview, session 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his maternal great-grandparents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his paternal grandfather's pipe
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his parents' careers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his parents' personalities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his father's shoe repair business
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his sisters
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his parents' decision to enroll him in Catholic school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the redlining of the West Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the wealth gap in the United States
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the achievement gap in the United States
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his early work experiences
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris Jr. recalls the political climate in Chicago, Illinois during the 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls his involvement in boys clubs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his early interest in history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls his activities at St. Philip Basilica High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his visits to the segregated South
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the death of Emmett Till
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his early aspirations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls his decision to attend Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the faculty of Roosevelt University, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the faculty of Roosevelt University, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his decision to pursue an academic career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls meeting his wife
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls the start of his teaching career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his master's degree thesis
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the influence of Malcolm X
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the uprisings of 1968 on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his teaching experiences at Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris Jr. recalls his graduate studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his dissertation
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Lee Harris, Jr.'s interview, session 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls his graduate studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the findings of his dissertation
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls joining the faculty of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his teaching experiences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. reflects upon his time at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the regional differences in racial categories
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the historical accounts of the Civil War
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the Dunning School
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls joining the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the scholarship of Stanley M. Elkins
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the scholarship on slavery
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the changing perceptions of slavery
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. reflects upon the impact of Alex Haley's 'Roots'
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls writing the study guides for 'Roots'
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his scholarship on H. Ford Douglas
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his career at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers John Henrik Clarke
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his scholarship on African American historiography
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his article, 'The Afro-American Classics: The Essential Library'
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the contributions of historian George Washington Williams
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his anthology contributions
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his academic textbook, 'Teaching African American History,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his academic textbook, 'Teaching African American History,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the election of President Barack Obama
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. reflects upon the impact of President Barack Obama's administration
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the employment opportunities in technological fields
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his career at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his current scholarship, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his current scholarship, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about African American representation in the workforce
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his hopes for African American youth
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the changes to the Africana studies program at Cornell University, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the changes to the Africana studies program at Cornell University, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the field of Africana studies
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about 'The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his advice to aspiring historians
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his advice to African American studies scholars
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers attending international conferences
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered