Dr. Homer E. Harris Jr. made history twice – as the first Black football captain of his high school team in Seattle, Washington, and later as the first Black team captain in the Big Ten collegiate sports conference. After his football career ended, Dr. Harris enjoyed a four-decade career as a prominent dermatologist.
Harris was born March 4, 1916 and starred at Seattle’s Garfield High. He then attended the University of Iowa and played as an offensive lineman. Much like the accolades he earned at Garfield, Harris became the team’s first Black captain which was a first for any sport in the Big Ten Conference.
The National Football League was within Harris’ sight, but the league was still segregated. With his professional dreams dashed, Harris went to coach the North Carolina A&T University football team. At the urging of his mother, he entered the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. and entered the Army shortly after. At the conclusion of World War II, Harris served as an intern of dermatology.
With his career course charted, Harris returned to his native Seattle to begin his practice. Much like his collegiate football career, Harris faced hurdles of all sorts due to his race. But as he did in times past, Harris found his footing as a doctor and became one of the most successful doctors in the Northwest.
Harris, who retired in the ’90’s died at the age of 90 in 2007.