Glen A. Harris reintroduces Alexander Rivera Jr. in Biography

By: Victor Greene

Alexander Rivera Jr. was an African American photojournalist. As a photojournalist, he covered many events such as the Willie Earle lynching in South Carolina, the Isaiah Nixon lynching in Georgia, and the school desegregation cases of the 1950s. Rivera was a member of the first African American press delegation on an official U.S. diplomatic trip overseas and traveled to Africa with President Richard Nixon. The stories that Alexander Rivera Jr. covered inspired Dr. Glen A. Harris to write Rivera’s biography “Social Justice and Liberation Struggles: The Photojournalistic and Public Relations Career of Alexander McAllister Rivera Jr.”

Dr. Harris first met Alexander in 1990 because his professor Dr. Beverly Washington told him that it would be a good opportunity for him to network, a start his journey. Dr. Harris wrote his master’s thesis on Alexander Rivera. He built a close friendship with Rivera which inspired him to become the first black professor at North Carolina Central University in the history department. This past Saturday, February 10th Dr. Harris visited Mount Vernon Baptist Church to share knowledge about the influence and impact that Rivera had on black culture and the importance of knowing black history. 

A colleague of Dr. Harris, Dr. Percy Murray talked about the various obstacles he faced as a black man. His white teacher told him “You are too poor to be radical.” He surpassed all odds, and he became a professor at a university of 20,000 students with only 200 of them being black. 

The biography details the struggles that Rivera faced while also discussing his ignored and underappreciated work as a photojournalist. Dr. Glen Harris is elated with the book’s release but is disappointed that Dr. Beverly Washington passed away before he could finish this book. Harris is grateful for Washington’s guidance and support that led to his fruition. “She was a very important part of how I started this journey and I just want to say thank you,” Dr. Harris states.