Louis Harris is a lifelong Snohomish County resident. He was born on December 15th, 1987 in Everett, and was raised most of his life in Marysville. After graduating high school in 2006, Louis was the victim of a car accident that left him paralyzed with a spinal cord injury. After a lengthy recovery, Louis attended Everett Community College where he began his dedication to community service by participating in several clubs and co-creating an organization to raise funds for victims of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Louis graduated from Everett Community College with several awards for community service and transferred to Washington State University in Pullman, WA.
Louis’ time at Washington State University was busy with his involvement in re-organizing the operations of a youth community volunteering program in London, being a peer mentor to other students, and working in research laboratories. He graduated from WSU in 2014 with two degrees in Psychology and Sociology and a minor in Global Studies.
He returned to Snohomish County with AmeriCorps, working for Everett Community College, where he instituted a student volunteer program and academic enrichment programs for underserved youth in middle, and high schools in the area. By the end of his service term, Louis joined the Snohomish County Branch NAACP and quickly became the Communication Chair for the Branch. As a volunteer, it wasn’t long before Louis was promoted to Vice President of the organization because of his contributions to community building around the county. He also started working for Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services where he provides food, cash, and healthcare to the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Louis' work in the community has spanned from racial equality to human services, and from advocacy to public policy. He’s worked across multiple states to bring about institutional change through direct and indirect action. Louis’s plan is to effect change at the highest level possible by shaping public policy to be more inclusive, innovative, and fare for all residents of Snohomish County.
It goes without saying that no one on this earth is a perfect person. I know that I am not. But my human failings and my past mistakes are the very fuel that drives me to be better every day. While my struggles, setbacks, and tribulations might be different than yours, I hope that you can find value in my story.
Throughout my life, I have struggled to overcome adversity. I was a young kid when I was first hit with the pain of racism. An incident so scaring, that it set the tone of my life, growing up in a Marysville. Make no mistake, I learned early and clearly that I was indeed,
I was put in the box of “black male” and in that box is the stereotype of being a thug and criminal.
In some ways, my story is quite usual. My adolescence was filled with friends who were negative influences. The drive to be “cool” caused us to reinforce the stereotype that young black men are labeled with as being a thug and a criminal. As a result, I began to make mistakes that as an adult, I look back on and am thankful I made it through those times with my life. In those days, my view of being black in Snohomish County was limited.
I learned quickly there are consequences of trying to fit in. The pressure to have the same fancy things everyone else had, was so great to my teenage mind, that I did not fully understand the damage I was doing to my future. I just knew that I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to have what everyone else had. I wanted my friends to like me. I wanted to be accepted.
But life is ready to teach a lesson once we are ready to learn. I made the poor choice of getting in a car with a bunch of friends that had been drinking. That night, we were in a car accident and my spinal cord was fractured. I woke up in the hospital, unable to move my legs. Years of being a wayward teen almost cost me my life.
But it did not. There was more for me to do…..
I saw the car accident as a turning point…
The accident caused me to take stock of my life and ownership of my mistakes. It forced me to find a strength that I did not know I had. It renewed my faith in myself, in my God and in the people in my community. I realized that as I put myself back together, I could build the man I wanted to be, not the “black male” in the box that people saw me as.
From that day on I focused on how I wanted to use my time to help others. I chose to follow through with my dream of helping people, but It took time and energy--refining my view of myself, and the world. I enrolled at Everett Community College and my world changed, yet again.
Throughout my college career I focused on understanding how people think, so I could use my experience to help others. I studied how society and groups worked so that I could help to change them in ways that preserve individual liberty, but promote community. I created humanitarian organizations, researched politicians, traveled the world, and built community. My college experience was a time used wisely, to make an impact after my graduation.
When I returned home after graduating with two degrees, I worked for Everett Community College, where I instituted a student volunteer program and academic enrichment programs for underserved youth in local middle and high schools. By the end of my service term, I joined the Snohomish County Branch NAACP and through my volunteerism, quickly became the Vice President of the organization. Next, I started working for Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services where I provide food, financial assistance, and healthcare to our state’s most vulnerable individuals and families.
I am still not perfect, but I have learned that we don’t have to limit ourselves to what society deems to be our place.
We don’t have to stay in our lanes.
I have been serving my community and I am running for office because I want to change the world from a place where people put their lives at risk just to fit in, into a world where there is a space for everyone…as they are. We will never live in a world with no mistakes, but we can fight for a world where everyone's voice matters.
Let's build this future together.
- Louis Harris