In Memoriam: Andrea Harris Opened Doors For Minority-Owned Businesses In North Carolina

May 26, 2020

Andrea Harris, co-founder of the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development, advocated for minority communities across the state. She died Wednesday at the age of 72.
Credit Courtesy of The North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development

Andrea Harris was a force to be reckoned with. An advocate for the economic advancement of minority communities in the state, she tore down barriers that prevented those communities from owning homes or running businesses. 

In 1986, she co-founded the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development, known familiarly as
The Institute, and served as its president for many years. The Institute has given over $1 billion to minority businesses in financial and contract awards.  Harris grew up in Henderson and attended Bennett College in Greensboro. She started her career in advocacy and economic justice at the age of 23, when she became the director of a community action agency in her hometown and fought poverty in three rural counties. Harris died Wednesday at the age of 72.

Host Frank Stasio remembers her life and legacy with Lew Myers and Anita Brown-Graham. Myers met Harris when they were both in their 20s and co-founded The Institute. Brown-Graham was one of Harris’ mentees. She is a professor of public law and government at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government and the director of the ncIMPACT Initiative.