In Memoriam: Janette Hoston Harris, 1939-2018

Janette Hoston Harris, who was expelled from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for her civil rights activism, passed away on November 2 at her home in Washington, D.C. She was 79 years old.

In 1960, Dr. Harris was one of six Southern University students arrested for attempting to desegregate an all-White lunch counter. As a result of this, the governor of Louisiana ordered the expulsion of all six students from the university and prohibited them from attending any college in the state. Dr. Harris left Louisiana and attended Central State University in Ohio. While there, her case challenging segregation, Hoston vs. State of Louisiana, was later incorporated into larger litigation – Garner vs. State of Louisiana – a case which was argued successfully by Thurgood Marshall in 1962.

Dr. Harris went on to serve as a campaign manager for the Carter-Mondale reelection campaign, research associate for the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, a faculty member at what is now the University of the District of Columbia, and leader of the consulting firm, JOR Associates.

Dr. Harris held a bachelor’s degree from Central State University and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 2004, she and the other five students who participated in the lunchroom sit-in were awarded degrees from Southern University.

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  1. Matthew Kinnard says:

    Condolences to the family and friends of Janette H. Harris, a longtime friend and acquaintance, a Civil Rights Pioneer and a much accomplished political and social activist resident of the District of Columbia. As trivial as it may seem to most, Janette taught me, a person with two left feet, to execute “The Electric Slide” flawlessly during an “Organization of Black Scientists (OBS) social event on the campus of Catholic University.

    Rest in Peace Janette. You have certainly earned this honor.

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