How preserving his family’s history led to Atlanta’s foremost architect and me writing his story …

Genealogy is a complicated, rewarding journey. Fortunately, my friend, the award-winning Atlanta Architect Oscar Harris, superbly retained the information about his parents who were black pioneer pharmacists and operated a historical shop in a famous black neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA.

What may family genealogists learn from Oscar?

  • Preserve, don’t just save, your family’s current records.
  • Ask lots of questions of your elders and be observant.
  • Remember your friends, neighbors and relatives’ stories.
  • Plan to report or author your family’s story, especially through an autobiography.

Here’s another site where Oscar’s story is published. Since the book, Oscar!< was published in 2013, Oscar’s “retirement” career has been undone as he is often sought after for lectures, architecture leadership, media articles, teaching and other fun projects.

Working with Oscar to record his story, pour through thousands of documents, learn so much about a once shy young man’s overcoming nature, his wife gave me a great “warning” and words of advice: “Oscar loves the process,” Sylvia Harris informed me.

For that, I am thankful.

Below is an article written by my dear friend, Sidmel Estes, who transitioned a few years ago. She too was a friend of Oscar in addition to being a visionary and solid TV executive producer who created “Good Day Atlanta” on Fox5 and was the first female president of the National Association of Black Journalists.


Here’s another site where Oscar’s story is published. Since the book, Oscar!< was published in 2013, Oscar’s “retirement” career has been undone as he is often sought after for lectures, architecture leadership, media articles, teaching and other fun projects.

Oscar! A review and arts

By (the late) Sidmel Esteshttps

https://patch.com/georgia/cascade/oscar-harris-breaks-through-barriers

Few people can say they helped shape the look of a city. But Oscar L. Harris, Jr, founder and president of Turner Associates can make that claim. From Centennial Olympic Park to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, you can see the imprint of Oscar Harris. The new book, “Oscar! The Memoir of a Master Architect” takes you behind the scenes of crucial negotiations that opened the door for many minority architects and firms. It is no-olds barred account of what it took to break into one of the most exclusive professional circles…architecture. Many of the stories are not pretty and hard to take, but reflect the passion, aspirations and determination of a true artist who turned his creative energies into tangible works of beauty and substance.https://patch.com/georgia/cascade/oscar-harris-breaks-through-barriers

Oscar started his business at a time when African Americans were denied and insulted. With frankness and a proven track record, Turner Associates went from nothing to perhaps the most successful and diverse portfolio architectural firms in America. Oscar lays it all on the table as he gives insight into what it took to revitalize Underground Atlanta, re-build major government buildings and justice centers, retail centers, create “the look” of the 1996 Olympic Games and so much more.

Oscar offers a blueprint of what he envisions for the future to be able to turn  around in his profession in particular, but our society at large. The book also includes spectacular sketches, drawings and photographs of some of Oscar’s biggest accomplishments.

Sidmel Estes, owner of Break Through Media Consulting

Separately, here’s another link: https://butteratl.com/how-black-architect-oscar-harris-built-modern-atlanta/

Author: Learning family histories

Our genealogy traces our family from western and central Africa and western Europe. Our ancestors entered the United States at the Virginia and Georgia Ports. First cousins Mark Owen and Ann Lineve Wead (it is protocol to use the maiden names of females in genealogy searches) are responsible for writing this blog. Although Ann has been involved in genealogy research while searching for certain ancestors since the age of 10, the cousins began deeper research of their families during the COVID-19 Pandemic Year of 2020. Devoting as much as 6 hours some evenings to the methodical training and research of genealogy, the cousins completed the year 2020 by earning genealogy certificates. Join us. Sign up for our blog and enjoy the journey.

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