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Colonel William A. Harris interview


Colonel William A. “Box” Harris (1918-1985) was a soldier, high-ranking police officer, and member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Harris was the first Black man to become a parole officer and Marshall for the state of Maryland. In this oral history interview, Harris details his time with the Baltimore Police Department and National Guard, including his involvement with the Cambridge and Baltimore riots of the 1960s. Harris addresses charges of police brutality and misconduct from his first-hand experience relating to the riots. He discusses his relationship with Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro III, as well as the mayor’s relationships with prominent civil rights leaders in Baltimore, including Furman Templeton and Carl Murphy. Harris goes into detail about his work alongside the NAACP and his opinions on the Black Panthers and the Soul School as part of the new generation of civil rights activists. He discusses the role of the Jackson family in Baltimore politics, and his work with Lillie May Carroll Jackson and Freedom House. Harris talks about the advancements made under Donald Pomerlau in integrating the Baltimore Police Department, including the prioritization of training and education within the department.




Contributor(s) Notes

Narrator: Colonel William A. Harris
Interviewer: Susan Conwell

Production Note

The McKeldin-Jackson Project was an effort to examine the Maryland civil rights movement of the mid-20th century through the medium of oral history by focusing on the roles played by pioneering freedom fighter Lillie May Carroll Jackson and Theodore R. McKeldin, who was Mayor of Baltimore (1943-1947, 1963-1967), Governor of Maryland (1951-1959), and an advocate for civil rights. The project was sponsored by the Maryland Historical Society and was supported in part by a grant from the Maryland Committee for the Humanities and Public Policy.


Object ID

OH 8125


Audio: 95 minutes
Transcript: 56 pages

Catalog Number

OH 8125

Resource ID


Digital Publisher

Digital resource provided by the Maryland Center for History and Culture


This digital material is made available here for private study, scholarship, and research. Commercial and other uses are prohibited without the permission of the Maryland Center for History and Culture. For more information, visit the MCHC’s Reproductions and Permissions web page.