Born and raised in Seattle, Homer Harris (1916-2007) grew up in his parents’ home near the Washington Park Arboretum. In his early years he played football and other games in the park.
At Garfield High School, he became the first black captain of the football team, in 1933. He attended the University of Iowa on a sports scholarship — choosing not to attend the University of Washington because of perceived racist attitudes toward black athletes. He became the first African American player to captain a Big Ten team, and in 1937 earned the honor of Most Valuable Player.
At that time, the National Football League banned black players. Harris got a job coaching football at A&T College (HBCU) in North Carolina.
Following his mother’s hope that he would become a physician, he attended Meharry Medical College (HBCU) in Tennessee. After receiving his medical degree he interned in Kansas City, then trained in dermatology at the University of Illinois.
In 1955, Dr. Harris returned to Seattle. He and his family resided at 7th Ave W & W Galer on Queen Anne in a house designed by renowned architect J. Lister Holmes. It appears in the city’s survey of historic buildings.
He began his practice in downtown Seattle at the historic Medical Dental Building, and achieved considerable success. In 1989 the Black Heritage Society of Washington State honored him as a Pioneer Black Doctor.
Washington State declared November 13, 2002 Dr. Homer Harris Day.
In November 2002, the Seattle Parks Foundation announced that an anonymous donor had given $1.3 million to build a Central Area park, Homer Harris Park, which opened in May 2005.
Above: Karen Daubert, Homer Harris, Stimson Bullitt, & Ken Bounds attending May 2005 dedication of Homer Harris Park
Reference: HistoryLink “Homer E. Harris Jr. (1916-2007)”