We in Hopewell City Public Schools join our community in offering our deepest condolences to the family of Reverend Curtis West Harris. After graduating in 1944 from Carter G. Woodson High School and then attending Virginia Union University for his post secondary education, Reverend Harris returned to make Hopewell his home. For sixty-five years, Reverend Harris demonstrated immense devotion and love to his wife Ruth and unwavering love and support for his six children. As have they in their family been blessed by his strong convictions, his ministry, and his leadership, so too have the citizens of Hopewell.
From 1983 until 2012, Reverend Harris was on the Hopewell City Council. During this time he represented Ward 2, served as the city’s second elected vice-mayor, and was Hopewell’s first African American Mayor. Throughout his life and especially applicable to Hopewell, his humanitarian spirit also prompted his ordination as a minister, his service as president of the Carter G. Woodson PTA, and his committee work for the creation of the Community Action Program for Reading. His service on this community board, which still today provides free books for students to take home, initiated the RIF program in Hopewell Schools.
Reverend Harris was a committed leader in the national struggle for civil rights. He made outstanding contributions to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and to the Virginia State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. We celebrate his effectiveness as a change agent for equality.
In Hopewell, his legacy lives on for those who visit the Curtis W. Harris Library at CGW Middle School or who might travel on Rev. C.W. Harris Street. We remember his strong religious, social, educational, and political convictions. Our school division celebrates his courage and vision that helped all but that which especially touched the lives of our Hopewell students, their families, and our community.