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Abram Harris, a Black economist, was born on the date in 1899.
Abram Lincoln Harris Jr. was from Richmond, Virginia. He made impressive strides in various specialized economic areas, anthropology, and Black studies. A graduate of Virginia Union University in 1922, he completed his M.A. in economics in 1924 and received his Ph.D. in 1930 from Columbia University. From 1924 to 1945, Harris taught briefly at West Virginia State, worked for the Minneapolis Urban League, and taught at Howard University. During these years, he collaborated with colleagues Ralph Bunche and E. Franklin Frazier, attacking old values and outlooks on race.
In 1931, he collaborated on "The Black Worker" with Jewish political scientist Sterling Spero. This was his most famous work; In 1935, he was the main author of a work suggesting the NAACP take a more active stance on race relations. The Harris Report, as it was called, prompted the organization to consider class as well as race relations. In the 1940s, he was the intellectual leader of the ultra-liberal Social Science Division of Howard, which he helped found in 1937.
An intellectual conversion took place in Harris’ life after relocating to the University of Chicago in 1945. His deep concerns about the Soviet Union's totalitarian direction were expressed in his writing, "Black Communist in Dixie," for the Urban League's magazine Opportunity.
While in the windy city, he became almost silent on the question of race, instead focusing his writings on books such as "The Social Philosophy of Karl Marx," in 1948 and Economics and Social Reform in 1958. During his life, he had a healthy influence on both Black radical and neo-conservative thought.
Abram Harris died in November 1963.
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.