Ruth Harris to have street named after her in Hopewell
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Apr 8, 2014, 14:20
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Booker Street will be renamed Ruth Harris Way. The street intersects with Terminal Street, which will be named after her husband the Rev. Curtis Harris, near the church where he served as pastor.
HOPEWELL — They spent 65 years of life together and will be together once again as intersecting streets in Hopewell. Booker Street, which intersects Terminal Street, will soon be renamed “Ruth Harris Way.”
Councilor Roosevelt Edwards, in a time span of two months, has spearhead the campaign to have both Rev. Dr. Curtis W Harris and his late wife, Ruth Harris honored for their efforts in the city by having the two streets bear their names.
In Feb. Edwards brought the motion to council to have Terminal Street renamed to Rev CW Harris St. During the discussion in February, a couple of councilors brought up that the late Ruth Harris needed to be honored as well.
“When I first got on council, Mrs. Harris was faithfully driving Mr. Harris to conferences and to meetings. She was most definitely a very, very involved wife,” said Councilor Christina Luman Bailey. “As far as his participation on city council, she was there and did a lot to help him continue being on council.”
Councilor Brenda Pelham also felt Ruth needed to be honored in the city.
“Women always work behind the scenes in supporting a successful man. I grew up with the Harris family and I knew Ms. Ruth did a lot to make Dr. Harris the success that he has been. Think of your wives and mothers and think of how they have helped make you successful.”
When Edwards brought up the motion at the council meeting on March 11, his efforts were unanimously supported by all councilors present, with Vice Mayor Jasmine Gore not present.
“They coincide with each other,” Edwards said of the two streets in the days following the council meeting. “It is romantic. He probably wouldn’t have been who he was if it wasn’t for her.”
Ruth Harris supported her husband Curtis through his ongoing efforts with the civil rights movement.
In 1959, Ruth and Curtis opened the Harris Snack Bar with Ruth as the head cook and manager. During its run in the community, Martin Luther King Jr. stopped by in the 1960s. Ruth was also very involved in her husband’s church, Union Baptist, while he served as the preacher.
Ruth was also very involved with childcare and she and Curtis opened Union Day Care Center Inc. in 1972. Ruth served as director of the day care center and during that time, she also created a senior citizens program. In 2000, Ruth retired from the day care industry after serving for 28 years.
Ruth was honored in 2007 for her efforts during the civil rights movement. She was one of the first to be awarded the Faithful Servant Award by the National Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Ruth passed away May 22, 2011.
Edwards said it was because of all her efforts on and off the scenes with her husband, Curtis Harris, that she needed to be remembered for all her contributions to the city and beyond.
“This project is to honor two people who not only helped the city of Hopewell but nationally they’ve helped people across the world,” Edwards said. “This is just a token that I want to give to them.”
Currently the street signs are being made, Edwards said. He said once the street signs are completed, he would like to set a date and have a ceremony to have the signs put up simultaneously. After the ceremony, Edwards said he would like to plan a reception at Union Baptist Church, where Rev. Harris formally preached and where the street signs will be directly across.
“It needed to happen,” Edwards said. “They were partners, they were two.”