Today is Friday, August 18, 2017

Woman of Wilson: Mary McAdoo Harris

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Mary McAdoo Harris

President and Co-Founder of the Wilson County Black History Committee and Roy Bailey African American Museum and History Center Mrs. Mary McAdoo Harris works hard to preserve the community she loves.

Harris, a native of Wilson County, attended Market Street Elementary and is a 1956 graduate of Wilson County High School.

She is the wife of Harry Harris Jr. On December 24 of this year the couple will celebrate 59 years of marriage. They have three children, Vincent Harris, Milton Harris and Madilyn Harris Wilson; four grandchildren, Brandeion Harris, Joseph Wilson III, Desmond Harris and Mackenzie Ellen Harris.

In addition to her roles with the Wilson County Black History Committee and Roy Bailey African American Museum, Harris is co-director of the Pickett Chapel Restoration.

"History is truth. If we share it responsibly we can attract more Wilson Countians and discuss the importance of our collective heritage. The honest discussion will also give the next generation a sense of the past as they live for today and prepare for a brighter future," she explained. "We are all in this together, regardless of race, creed or religion."

Harris said the WCBHC alone cannot restore Pickett Chapel - it requires support from the entire community.

"After restoration the Pickett Chapel Roy Bailey African American Museum and History Center will serve all Wilson County citizens and people around the world," she said. "We have a great story to preserve and a greater story to tell."

Harris said help is needed in various areas of the restoration - such as membership recruiter, museum layout plan, historical education programs, special events assistance, community partnership coordinator, grant writing and more.

When she isn't working, Harris is on the Wilson County Fair Board and Fiddlers Grove and is involved with American Legion Ladies Auxilary Unit #179. She enjoys listening to music - particularly gospel and classic rhythm and blues tunes - reading, and playing cards with family and friends.

Harris has been a member of Pickett Rucker United Methodist Church for over 60 years. She has served in many areas of ministry for the last 50 years, the most gratifying being serving as youth coordinator and church historian. "We will be celebrating our 150th church anniversary next year," she said. "That is going to be very exciting and I'm looking forward to it."

Harris named two women she most admires, starting with her mother, Mrs. Talitha McAdoo.

McAdoo taught her to be honest, trustworthy, respectful, and most importantly, to keep God in her life. "She was clear on her convictions and stressed that we should stand up for what was right and fair no matter the consequences," Harris said.

Harris added that her high school English teacher and librarian Mrs. Bessie Gibbs Crawley made a positive impact on her life. "She was a tall, beautiful brown-skin woman with gray hair that she wore up in a ball. Mrs. Crawley was impeccably dressed every day," she recounted. "She would talk to the girls often, impressing on us how important it was to look your best when you went out. It was also important to her for us to use proper grammar when speaking.

"The core of her belief was - not to allow anyone to out work you. Whatever the task is - do your best," she said. "The hardest thing she taught us was that we should be open to constructive criticism. That one is hard to do, but I'm working on it."

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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