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William E. Harbour

January 9, 1942 – August 27, 2020

William E. Harbour was an American civil rights activist who participated in the Freedom Rides as one of several youth activists.

Soon after arriving in Nashville to attend Tennessee State University, Harbour joined the Student Central Committee of the Nashville Christian Leadership Council at the behest of John Lewis, a fellow activist and close friend. While at the university, he participated in numerous acts of civil disobedience as a function of the civil rights movement. His activism brought him to Rock Hill, SC where he served jail time with other students imprisoned after a lunch counter sit-in. Out of numerous volunteers, Harbour was one of only a few selected to take part in the first Freedom Rides, an activity that ultimately precipitated in his expulsion from the university.

The pattern of brutality and jail terms which he and his fellow activists encountered not only strengthened the Freedom Riders’ resolve, but also increased publicity and motivated others to join them.
In late 1961, Harbour was reinstated to Tennessee State University. Today, the Atlanta Alumni Association sponsors a scholarship named in his honor.

Submitted by our members in 2020.