Maxwell leaders tour historical Harris House for professional development

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rhonda Smith
  • Air University Public Affairs

42nd Air Base Wing command team and squadron commanders had the opportunity to tour the Dr. Richard Harris House for professional development, Feb. 3, 2022.

The Dr. Richard Harris house was a staple in the height of the civil rights movement. The house provided the black community a safe place to affect change, it served as a safe haven for 33 students also known as the Freedom Riders.

“This experience really showed me the history and heritage of Montgomery that’s right at our door steps,” said Lt. Col. Hiram Ortiz, 42nd Medical Support Squadron Commander. “We often drive by these historical landmarks without realizing the impact these places had on provoking change.”

Throughout the tour the commanders heard stories of many influential leaders that walked through the home such as activist John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Harris not only opened his home for the advancement of equality but he opened his drug store, Dean Drug Store, to be a command center during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56.

The group spoke with Dr. Valda Montgomery Harris, daughter of the late Dr. Richard Harris, and Dr. Shirley Cherry. The speakers gave advice to the commanders about what it meant to be leaders in times of uncertainty.

“There are times when people are called to take a stand for what’s right and if I could leave you with any advice it would be that ordinary people can do extraordinary things,” said Dr. Shirley Cherry, tour director at the Dexter Parsonage Museum.