'Closing of an era': Remembering Norman Harris Sr., an icon in Five Points

Norman Harris, Senior came home to Colorado from World War II and ran businesses and apartment buildings in Denver's Five Points neighborhood.

NEXT WITH KYLE CLARK - Norman Harris III's fingers run through tattered pictures and documents. He's known his grandpa all his life through stories and conversations.

This is the first time he's piecing his grandpa's life together through documented words and photos.

"He's truly an amazing man," Harris said. "Really a pioneer in the city of Denver, Colorado."

If you were to describe Norman Harris Senior based on his career, he was simply a businessman who owned a couple of properties in Five Points. 

But his family and the African American community know that labeling Harris Sr. as a mere 'businessman' minimizes who he really was. 

"He was part of the cultural fabric," Jeff Fard said.

Brother Jeff is a historian and the founder of a cultural center in Five Points, and says Harris' death is the "closing of an era."

"He was the living history of this community...he held the oral traditions and passed it down to many generations," he said. 

Harris Sr. faced challenges from banks who refused to give loans to African Americans back in the late 1900s. He went to Congress to lobby for a HUD loan to redevelop his property to a 21 unit apartment complex that served low-income tenants and retired veterans.  

"During the era of Mr. Harris, it was very important for the black community to have a cultural center that was rooted in economics," Brother Jeff said. 

Harris Sr. moved to Five Points in the 1940s and fell in love with the neighborhood that was "traditionally filled with African American greatness," Brother Jeff said. "Jazz, culture, music, food...just the vibration of the center of the black community is right here." 

Norman Harris Sr. passed away on Friday, Nov. 3. He was 99-years-old. 

"It hurts that he's not here physically, but he's here. He's here in every move I make," Harris III said as he wiped away his tears. 

He was a World War II veteran, a father and a grandfather, an entrepreneur, and now he will be remembered as a historical icon for Five Points.

"In our community when an elder passed, we say it is as if a library has been burned," Brother Jeff said. "That's definitely the case with Norman Harris Senior." 

Norman Harris Senior's funeral will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at Taylor Mortuary at 11 a.m. The family welcomes anyone who knew him.  

© 2017 KUSA-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment