Alexandria, VA – The July edition of the Alexandria Noir column gladly introduces you to Mr. Christopher Harris who is a native Alexandrian, local business owner (Harris Safety Management & Training), current candidate for Alexandria City School Board (District C) and a descendant from a strong line of entrepreneurial women. In addition to these many accolades, Mr. Harris has dedicated a significant amount of his time by advocating for the Alexandria community. He first achieved this by serving as a member on the City of Alexandria’s Human Rights Commission and as an active brother in the Alexandria-Fairfax Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.’s community action committee. He then utilized his experiences and knowledge to assist the National Association for the Advancement of Color People (NAACP) – Alexandria Chapter by pledging to serve as their President for two terms. During this interview, Mr. Harris highlights how the chapter is supporting the Alexandria community and showcases what’s on the horizon for 2021.
Zebra: How long have you been affiliated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – Alexandria Chapter?
Mr. Harris: I have been a part of the NAACP for seven years. I just wrapped up my second term as the President of the Alexandria chapter in December 2020. I’m currently acting in an advisory capacity to assist the newly elected president.
Zebra: During your tenure as the President of the chapter what were your responsibilities?
Mr. Harris: The core of my responsibilities centered around increasing membership, fundraising and addressing any issues in the city that pertained to equity, racism and inequality that effects the African American community.
We also partnered with other organizations, such as the Tenant & Workers United to address the shared concern regarding the debate on School Resource Officers in Alexandria public schools.
Zebra: The NAACP Alexandria Chapter was chartered on January 20, 1934, and has had a long history of social activism in the city. What contributions has the chapter contributed to the Alexandria community?
Mr. Harris: There have been so many contributions and I possibly could not name them all. However, the chapter was recently an instrumental focus group member in the name change of T.C. Williams High School. This effort was always an initiative for the NAACP that could never cross the finish line.
During my term, we reinvigorated this grassroots cause by starting a social media group called T.C. name change that garnered a lot of support. I am a strong believer that the name change occurred because of our current cultural climate and how government entities are prioritizing rectifying injustices across the country. Now that the name has been changed to Alexandria City High School it clearly represents ALL students that walk through those doors.
Zebra: What do you most enjoy about being a part of the NAACP?
Mr. Harris: It’s always easy to be part of an organization that doesn’t have any challenges, but when you decide to be lead in an organization that has different challenges, especially in this day and age, it makes you work harder and appreciate the people you are fighting for.
I have always been a fan and supporter of the low man on the totem pole that is trying to scratch their way up. I enjoy listening to the issues that are presented to the chapter. This allows me the opportunity to rectify the obstacles and create a path to success.
As a native Alexandrian, it would be irresponsible for me to harbor my success and not reach back and help the Alexandria African American community that has nurtured me throughout my whole life.
Zebra: Are there any events/programs coming up that Zebra readers can attend?
Mr. Harris: The chapter is currently in the planning process for our Freedom Fund event. This our annual event, that recognizes our life long members and discusses our initiatives and goals for the year. When plans become more solidified Zebra readers can visit our website to get the most up to date details.
In addition, we have been hosting zoom meetings with several guest speakers, such as the FBI to talk about racial profiling. Now that we are slowly coming out of COVID restrictions, we are beginning to reengage with the community and working towards scheduling more in person programs and events.
Zebra: What are some of your favorite Alexandria establishments and why?
Mr. Harris: The Blue and White carryout has been a fixture in the community for some time and still is my favorite place to go to catch a bite for lunch.
I also always had a love for the waterfront. As a kid I use to go down there because it was always a serene and peaceful place. Now, with all the activities and new construction, it’s extra special, however nothing can replace the beauty of the water on the waterfront.
Zebra: Is there anything that you wish more people knew about the NAACP Alexandria Chapter or the issues you are trying to solve?
Mr. Harris: I would like the Alexandria community to know that the NAACP is an organization that welcomes and invites people from all backgrounds to become members of this historical association.
Alexandria is such a culturally rich city and I wish that more people would be engaged with the issues that pertain to equity and equality by volunteering their skills to help combat injustices and celebrate the victories that will continue to occur in our community.
Zebra readers can stay informed about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Alexandria Chapter by logging on to their website (www.naacpalexandriava.org/) and on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/naacp.alexandria/).