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Clarence Harris

Gender: Male

Ethnicity: Caucasian

Biographical/Historical note:

Clarence Lee "Curly" Harris (1905-1999) was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. He grew up and attended high school in Durham, North Carolina, where he began his career at the F.W. Woolworth Company store, in 1923, as Assistant Stock Room Manager. He continued working at Woolworth's after school and at night during his 5.5 years at Trinity College (now Duke University), from which he graduated in 1928 with a major in accounting and business law.

From 1929 to 1933 Harris worked as Assistant Manager at the Durham Woolworth store. In 1933 he was transferred to the Harrisonburg, Virginia store and promoted to Store Manager. He managed the Wilmington, North Carolina store from 1937 to 1947, and the Raleigh store from 1947 to 1955, when he was transferred to the Greensboro, North Carolina store. He remained at the Greensboro store until his retirement in 1969.

Harris was the manager of the downtown Greensboro Woolworth store on February 1, 1960, when Ezell Blair, Jr. (later Jibreel Khazan), Frank McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, four young African-American students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (NC A&T), entered the store and sat at the "whites only" lunch counter. Although a Woolworth waitress told them "we don't serve Negroes here," the four students refused to leave their seats for the rest of the day. During the following days and months the four students were joined by other students in their sit-in demonstration, until the lunch counter was integrated in July. Sit-in protests spread to over one hundred cities across the United States during the next year, and are considered the onset of the 1960s civil rights movement.

Items created by this individual or group:
Item thumbnail image Sit-Ins' Silver Day: A look at the lessons 25 years later
Date: January 18, 1985
By: William Henry Chafe
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

This article was published in the biweekly North Carolina Independent in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins at Woolworth's. Writt...

Item thumbnail image Daring act by four teenagers tumbles racial barriers
Date: January 27, 1985
By: Jim Schlosser
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Written twenty five years after the Greensboro sit-ins at Woolworth's, this article was published in the Greensboro News & Record and examines the event itself, a...

Item thumbnail image Remembering sit-ins
Date: February 1, 1985
By: unknown
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

This February 1, 1985 Greensboro News & Record editorial views the Woolworth sit-ins in retrospect and urges readers not to be “smug” when commemorati...

Item thumbnail image Remembering: 1 leader of sit-in visits site
Date: February 2, 1985
By: Jim Schlosser
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

In this February 2, 1985 article published in the Greensboro News & Record, staff writer Jim Schlosser reports on one of the original four sit-in participants, D...

Item thumbnail image Woolworth Story
Date: February 1, 1985
By: Giles Lambertson
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Greensboro News & Record editorial columnist Giles Lambertson wrote a series of columns in 1985 that drew the ire of Clarence Harris, who had worked as the manage...

Item thumbnail image Civil rights sloganeering
Date: March 4, 1985
By: Edwin M. Yoder, Jr.
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Washington Post columnist Edwin M. Yoder Jr. explores the effectiveness of civil rights laws and the struggle between those who wish to strive toward a literal colorb...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Forward
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

This section of Scrapbook 1 includes the foreword, acknowledgments, and a chronology of the sit-ins at that serves as a table of contents for the rest of the scrapbook. An unidentified news clippin...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 1
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapter 1 focuses on Woolworth's business practices and race relations compared to the racial makeup of Greensboro. Included are photographs of the dining area and bakery of the Woolworth's taken i...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 2
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapter 2 focuses on the events of February 1, 1960, including Harris' actions regarding the demonstrators. Mentioned are the "Greensboro Four": David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. (n...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 3
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapter 3 of this scrapbook focuses on the events of February 2, 1960, the second day of sit-ins, when student demonstrators occupied all twenty-seven seats at Woolworth's. Harris claims that norma...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 4, 5, 6
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of this scrapbook focus on the events of February 3-5, 1960 - the third, fourth, and fifth days of sit-ins. Harris remarks on how the press coverage fueled growing interest in ...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 7
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapter 7 of this scrapbook focuses on the events of February 6, 1960, the sixth day of sit-ins - namely the large crowd of onlookers at Woolworth, the bomb threat called into the store, and the st...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 8, 9
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapters 8 and 9 of this scrapbook focus on the period between February 7, when the students suspended the sit-ins in order to negotiate, and the week of February 23, when the protests resumed. Har...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 10, 11, 12
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapters 10, 11, and 12 of this scrapbook focus on events taking place from the end of February through the summer of 1960, including the continued sit-ins and Harris' eventual decision to desegreg...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 13, 14
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapters 13 and 14 of this scrapbook focus on the initial phase of desegregation at the Greensboro store and sit-ins at the Winston-Salem, N.C., Woolworth. Harris notes that the "colored" counter a...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 15, 16, 17, 18
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapters 15, 16, 17, and 18 of this scrapbook contain Harris’ retrospective analysis of the sit-ins and what they accomplished. He writes of the massive size of the demonstrations, meetings wi...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 19
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapter 19 focuses on Harris' personal response to the 1960 sit-ins. Harris includes his biography, and explains how many of his attempts to address the situation failed until he and Kress Departme...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 20
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapter 20 focuses on the long-term impact of the sit-ins, including the deterioration of downtown retail in Greensboro and Harris’ observation that inequality in social interactions still remained...

Item thumbnail image Clarence L. Harris Scrapbook: Chapter 21
Date: 1985
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Chapter 21 is entitled "The Legal, Ethical, and Economical Aspects" of the sit-ins and desegregation of the Greensboro Woolworth lunch counter. Harris emphasizes that no laws were broken by himself...

Item thumbnail image Racial Balance Busing
Date: October1971
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers
This handwritten letter to the editor by Clarence “Curly” Harris was written in response to an October 3, 1971 editorial in the Durham Morning Herald, entitl...
Item thumbnail image Letter from Clarence Harris to Tom Osborne
Date: August 10, 1983
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

This August 10, 1983 handwritten letter from Clarence “Curly” Harris to Greensboro City Manager Tom Osborne, introduces Osborne to Harris' perspectives on the Greensboro Woolworth sit-i...

Item thumbnail image Letter from Clarence Harris to David DuBuisson
Date: May 23, 1994
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers
This February 12, 1991 letter from Clarence “Curly” Harris to Greensboro News & Record editor David DuBuisson, questions details about the 1960 sit-ins ...
Item thumbnail image Letter from Clarence Harris to David DuBuisson
Date: February 12, 1991
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers
This February 12, 1991 letter from Clarence “Curly” Harris to Greensboro News & Record editor David DuBuisson, questions details about the 1960 sit-ins ...
Item thumbnail image Review of Miles Wolff's Book Lunch At The Five And Ten
Date: 1980
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers
In this 20-page document, Clarence “Curly” Harris, gives a detailed review of facts presented in Miles Wolff's 1970 book about the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins, Lunch at the...
Item thumbnail image Comments on William A. Chafe's book pertaining particularly to Chapter Three, "The Sit-Ins Begin"
Date: 1979
By: Clarence Harris
From: Clarence Lee Harris Papers
In this seven-page document, Clarence “Curly” Harris comments on historian William Chafe's book Civilities and Civil Rights . Harris, who was manager of the Gr...