Willie Lloyd Harriford, known by many as Dean Harriford, was born in Kansas City, Kan. before moving to Sioux City, Iowa where he graduated high school. After graduation from the University of Kansas, he entered the U.S. Army and then became the first African American Archivist of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Mo. Dean Harriford helped found the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change in Atlanta, Ga. before moving to Columbia, S.C. to begin his career at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). While at the UofSC, Dean Harriford helped found the African American Studies program, served as the school’s first Black Assistant Dean, and was the founder of the Theta Nu chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. After his retirement, he taught as an adjunct professor at Benedict College.
Born in Greenville, S.C., Harry Walker paved a path for Black students across the South when he became the first African American student body president at the UofSC. Walker, a graduate of Joseph E. Beck High School, was encouraged to run by his friend, Luther Battiste. With the support from the Association of African American Students, where he was serving as president, Walker and Battiste ran a campaign working with students from all races and nationalities because that is what they wanted the student body to look like. Upon graduation from the UofSC, Walker spent his career in sales with IBM before retiring.
Once elected as student body president, Walker visited the incoming Dean Harriford in Atlanta and their friendship quickly formed, extending their time at the UofSC and beyond. Harriford even convinced Walker to help coach youth soccer. Together, they coached and supported many young African American children who otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to play. They could often be found together, helping one another with house projects, or just spending time together with their families.
Dean Harriford passed away in 2018 and is survived by his wife, Fosteen “Tina” Ward Harriford, sons Chip and Ward and daughter Wendy Lynn, six grandchildren and one great grandchild. Walker married his UofSC college sweetheart Ernestine “Tena” and has two daughters, Breon and Meghan.
Presented through a partnership between the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina ETV.
View the series on KnowItAll.org here. View the Willie Harriford and Harry Walker Activity Sheets here.
Download the SC African American History Calendar here.
View the lesson plans and videos of each of the honorees on the SC African American History Calendar website.