When we look up at the night sky, we see stars ablaze in their glory. Their lights twinkling and their numbers so vast, they cannot be counted.
From a religious perspective, we see those stars as one of God’s wonders. But if we listen to man, the light we are seeing from some of those stars have bodies that have long since burned out. But the light is still traveling toward us.
I learned of 8th District Republican state representative candidate Glenn Harris’ death, on Sunday, Sept. 3. I had stopped at his home the day before. He wasn’t there, so I spoke with Mrs. Harris as I hadn’t seen her in a few years. We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, not knowing that God had called Glenn for his homegoing.
When I learned of Glenn’s death, my immediate response was to feel that another bright star in Austin was gone much too soon.
I then thought of when and where I first met Glenn. He had come to LaFollette Park to address an issue with then-alderman Percy Giles. At that time, Glenn spoke passionately about the school system and the inexperienced teachers who were teaching in our schools. His passion for education showed, as did his true love and concern for the neighborhood.
One night while leaving work late and walking to my car, I saw a city truck. As it pulled past me, I heard someone shout my name. It threw me off guard for a moment as I work downtown and had no idea who could be on a truck late at night and know my name. Yeah, thoughts of a hitman ran through my mind as I wondered who did I piss off this time? But lo and behold it was Glenn Harris. As he joked with me for a few moments, he kidded me about this column and told me to keep up the good work.
I last spoke with Glenn a week before his death. He was upbeat and wanted to get the word out about his campaign. I told him I would work on setting up a debate between him and LaShawn Ford. Yes, there has been a tendency in the black community to demonize the Republican Party, but Colin Powell is a Republican and up until the Iraq war, he was seen favorably by black folks. George Ryan is a Republican who freed 14 wrongfully convicted black men from Death Row, put there by the then ‘Demon’-cractic State’s Attorney and Sheriff (Richard M. Daley and Dick Devine). Why even Garfield Majors on WVON 1450AM (soon to be 1690AM) is a Republican! So getting the issues out and letting folks know the issues is more important than which party the person is from.
But, alas, God’s destiny for Glenn superseded all. His body is gone, but just like the stars in the sky, his light shines on. His light shines on everyone who ever met him. His light shines on the West Side where he grew up and raised his own family. His light shines on Austin where he made his home. His brightest twinkle of light was reserved for his wife, Eula Harris, and for his 11 children and grandchildren.
The Republican Party will need someone to replace Glenn on the ballot. My feeling is that you cannot have a race if you don’t have runners. So I hope the person who takes his place will embrace Glenn’s legacy and take on the challenge of running in this district with the same vigor Glenn had. It is not always important to win the race. It is important to have been one of the runners. The issues here in the 8th District are far too vital to ignore, and Glenn’s light was too vital to this community to let it go dim. Just as the stars’ light shines bright long after their bodies are gone, so shall it be for Glenn Harris. For every one of us who was touched by his light, we shine a little brighter for having met him. Rest in peace, Glenn, your work is now up to the rest of us to get done.
Glenn’s sudden death leaves his wife with 11 children. As of this writing, I am not sure what their needs are. But the loss to a family of a husband and father is always devastating. I will not host a conference call this Sunday, but will contact Mrs. Harris to know what she would like us as a community to do.