Mr. Harris was recalled last week as a young man determined to pursue a career in social justice after having grown up in public housing in one of the poorer areas of Alabama. His experiences instilled in him a desire to fight for change, said friends and colleagues, and inspired him to work even harder for the education he felt he needed to become an effective advocate for the poor and the homeless.
In his application to BC Law, Mr. Harris wrote that his desire for a law degree came from a need to help others, particularly the homeless and downtrodden in society. He said he wanted to become a voice for change, and assist in urban renewal efforts to revitalize the inner cities of America.
"I believe that true urban renewal will take inner-city originated policies that will allow residents to control and provide remedies for their own communities," he wrote. "I plan to work as a lawmaker representing and providing leadership to inner-city residents."
Mr. Harris earned his undergraduate degree in 2000 from the University of Alabama, where he was president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, chairman of the Black Student Awareness Committee, and vice-president of the Black Student Union. He also served as a YWCA mentor and volunteered at a local soup kitchen for the homeless, even while working 35 hours a week at two jobs to help support his family.
At BC Law, Mr. Harris was active in the Solomon Amendment Task Force, the Coalition for Equality and the Black Law Students Association, among others.
In a letter distributed to BC Law students, Dean for Students Norah Wylie said, "All of us who knew Arthur will remember him as a gentle man who was passionate about improving the life of the poor and disenfranchised in America. He was an inspirational speaker, organizer and advocate, and no one who had the privilege of listening to Arthur speak on issues of social justice could remain unmoved. His death diminishes us all.
"Remembering Arthur's gifts and talents, and how deeply he touched our lives will, I hope, provide each of us with a measure of comfort. The words of the Book of Wisdom are a fitting tribute to Arthur: 'Being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years. The righteous man, though he die early, will be at rest.'"
The family of Mr. Harris held a memorial service on Dec. 6 at the Hall Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. He was buried at the New Elam Cemetery in Montgomery.
-Law School Communications Manager Nathaniel Kenyon
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