Samuel J. Harris

Samuel Harris is pictured at home in 2009 in Washington, D.C.  Photo: Linda Hervieux

Samuel Harris is pictured at home in 2009 in Washington, D.C. 
Photo: Linda Hervieux

Montevallo, Alabama

The son of a coal miner, Samuel Harris was drafted into the Army in 1942 and became a communications officer in the 320th. He was an unwilling draftee and bristled under the strictures of Army life and the daily humiliations of racism and segregation. Seven decades after the war, he raged at the treatment accorded to young black men enlisted in the fight for freedom and democracy abroad. "What they did to me cannot be corrected," he said. After the war, Harris used the G.I. Bill to attend Howard University. He went on to study law, which he "always found fascinating." He was the first black attorney hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He bought a comfortable house on a leafy block in northwest Washington, married and had three daughters.

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