RALEIGH, N.C. – Stanley Harris received one of the first charters for a Boy Scout troop in the United States in 1908. He was instrumental in the founding of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, and served as the founder and leader of the Interracial Service of Boy Scouts of America for years.
Harris grew up in Avery County, and a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker will be dedicated to him on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 11:30 a.m. at the junction of West King Street and Poplar Grove Connection in Boone. The marker dedication coincides with the centennial of scouting.
An avid outdoorsman while living in Frankfort, Ky., Harris began leading mountain hikes for young boys. He read of the Boy Scouts, applied for a charter and received one from founder Robert Baden-Powell of Great Britain. As a scout leader in Kentucky, Harris made significant gains in introducing African American boys to scouting and subsequently was made head of the International Services division of Boy Scouts. In 1916 he supported the founding of the first all-black Boy Scout troop, and he helped organize the first all-American Indian troop in the 1920s. Harris became the first Caucasian to receive an honorary doctorate from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
In 1947 Harris retired from the Scouts and returned to Boone, where he worked with local Scout efforts. He remained active in community events, serving as treasurer for the outdoor drama “Horn in the West” and as secretary of the Boone Chamber of Commerce for 15 years. Harris died in 1976 and is buried near his former home in Boone.
For information call (919) 807-7290. The N.C. Highway Historical Marker program is within the Office of Archives and History in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.
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