Virginia Western, Harrison Museum Partner to Host Talk By Nelson Harris

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Virginia Western Community College and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture will host a historical talk by the Honorable Nelson Harris as part of the Artists and Musicians Lecture Series on Thursday, March 12.

Harris, the former mayor of Roanoke City and an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Western, will be signing his new book “The Roanoke Valley in the 1940s” beginning at 5:30 p.m. during a reception prior to the speaking program at 6:15 p.m. at Center in the Square.

Harris, who is the Pastor of the Heights Community Church, served as mayor of Roanoke City from 2004-08. He has taught philosophy and history classes at Virginia Western. Harris’ newest book, his 13th related to local history, details a dynamic period of growth in the Roanoke Valley as well as a burgeoning civil rights movement.

“The 1940s was a significant decade for the Roanoke Valley with the beginning of the local civil rights movement, the impact of World War II, and the post-war boon in municipal projects, businesses and retail,” Harris said. “The era was also marked by the lighting of the Roanoke Star, the advent of drive-in theatres, and the wide array of sports and entertainment celebrities that regularly came through the valley such as Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, and the stars of the Grand Ole Opry. I have tried to capture every facet of life in the valley during the 1940s to provide a work that is both enlightening and entertaining.”

Harris’ talk at the Harrison Museum is $20 per person, free for students with a Virginia Western ID, and open to the public. The museum is located on the second floor of the Center in the Square building in downtown Roanoke, One Market Square.

“We are thrilled to help present this talk for our students and the community,” said Amy Anguiano, Dean of Virginia Western’s School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “The Roanoke Valley has a very rich history, and it’s so important for us to remember and understand it.”

For more information on the Artists and Musicians Lecture Series or Nelson’s talk, contact coordinator Joan Baker Washburn at 540-293-1310 or [email protected]