Willie Pearl Harris: Henry’s mother. Grew up in Emelle in neighboring Sumter County. Supported her children by hoeing and picking cotton and working in the school lunchroom.

Robert Raymond: Henry’s brother, two years older than Henry.

James Harris: Henry’s brother, four years younger than Henry.

Henry Harris Sr.: Henry’s father. Died in 1950 at age twenty-nine at Tuskegee VA Hospital, when Henry was nine months old. Suffered from high blood pressure and seizures after WWII. Participated in the rebuilding of Germany. Rose to the rank of Tec 4.

Thomas Edmonds: Brother of Henry Harris Sr. Served as a jeep driver with the Ninth Army, driving officers and couriers near the front lines. Awarded service stars for two European campaigns. Re-enlisted to help rebuild Europe. Was murdered in 1951 by a white man in Boligee on a Saturday night. No charges were filed in the case.

Lieutenant Gooden: Husband of Henry’s grandmother, Pearl Gooden. Died in jail in 1955, less than two days after being arrested for drunk driving. Cause of death was listed as a cerebral hemorrhage.

Greene County

Al Young: Basketball coach at Greene County Training School.

A.W. Young: Al Young’s father and principal of Greene County Training School.

Gary Pettway: Henry’s best friend growing up in Boligee.

Paul Pettway: Football coach at Greene County Training School and a role model and mentor for Henry.

Dianne Kirksey: Henry’s onetime girlfriend, whom Alabama tried to use to help recruit Henry. Helped found Alabama’s Afro-American Association and was first black student chosen as a Bama Belle.

Bill Lee: Sheriff of Greene County. Former University of Alabama football captain, teammate of Bear Bryant, and All-Pro tackle for the Green Bay Packers.


James Owens: The first black football player awarded an Auburn athletic scholarship. Entered in 1969, one year after Henry, who became Owens’s mentor. Was starting fullback and offensive linchpin of 1972 team.

Thom Gossom: Auburn’s second varsity football player, becoming a starter in 1972. Earned scholarship as a walk-on. Was close friend of Owens and Harris. Eventually became an actor, writer, and motivational speaker.

Bill Lynn: Auburn head basketball coach from 1963-1973. Recruited and signed Harris before any other SEC school in the Deep South had integrated. His alcoholism would affect Harris’s playing career and his educational opportunity after basketball. Would eventually achieve sobriety.

Rudy Davalos: Auburn’s top assistant coach. A Mexican-American, he convinced Lynn to integrate the team. Was Harris’s primary recruiter. Lweft Auburn after Harris’s sophomore season. Became head coach at Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1973 and hired Harris as a student assistant coach.

Larry Chapman: Harris’s freshman team coach. Former Auburn player who was instrumental in Auburn’s decision to integrate. Left Auburn after Harris’s freshman season. Would win ___ as a college basketball head coach.

Jimmy Walker: An Atlantan who was Walker’s friend and a roommate on the road. Double-dated with Harris. Captain of 1970-71 team when Harris was junior.

John Mengelt: Auburn’s alltime leading scorer based on average points per game for a career. Averaged twenty-seven points per game as a junior and twenty-eight as a senior in 1970-71.

Albert Johnson: Auburn’s second black varsity basketball player. Transferred to Auburn in 1971, three years after Harris arrived. Harris’s only black teammate over his four years at Auburn.

Sylvester Davenport: Became second black high school basketball signed by Auburn in 1971.

Bill Perry: Auburn’s 1969-71 basketball team manager, when Harris was sophomore. Because Harris did not have a roommate, he would often spend the night in Harris’s room.

SEC Pioneers

Perry Wallace: First black American to play varsity basketball in the SEC in 1967-68.

Greg Page: Football player signed in 1966 to integrate Kentucky athletics. Injured with a broken neck in a practice accident three weeks before his first varsity season. Died three weeks later, on the eve of the Ole Miss game, which would be the first integrated SEC game.

Nate Northington: Page’s roommate and Kentucky’s initial black signee. Integrated league against Ole Miss and played at Auburn and then left team. Would go the next half-century without ever speaking of his experience at Kentucky.

Wendell Hudson: A basketball player who became the University of Alabama’s first black scholarship athlete in 1969. The following year, Alabama signed its first black football player, Wilbur Jackson.


Rudy Davalos: Auburn assistant and Harris’s primary recruiter. Left Auburn after Harris’s sophomore season. Three years later became head coach of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he hired Harris as a student-assistant coach. Left two weeks after Harris’s arrival to become an assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs.

Bill Klucas: Former Minnesota assistant coach who replaced Davalos as Wisconsin-Milwaukee head coach. Had never been head coach.

Tom Rosandich: Athletic director at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Was simultaneously starting the United States Sports Academy. Career Marine officer whose cost-cutting in the athletic department would cost Harris his job.

Tom Sager: Wisconsin-Milwaukee assistant basketball coach who became Harris’s friend and mentor.

Susan Loritz: Harris’s girlfriend in Milwaukee. An honors Wisconsin-Milwaukee undergraduate student.