By Elizabeth Varville, Journal Correspondent
On Thursday, Feb. 26, promoting Black History Month, Rev. Roscoe Harrison, Jr. spoke to an assembly of students at Belton’s New Tech High @ Waskow about his experiences as a journalist working for JET Magazine.
“I thought it was very informative. We are currently studying about civil rights in our history class. It was exciting to hear from someone from our hometown and being able to relate to how it was during that time period. I really enjoyed the experience,” said junior Haley Capps.
Harrison is a native of Belton and a graduate of the previously known segregated Harris High School in 1963. He grew up on S. Pearl St. He has two brothers who are Belton High School graduates. His father worked at Cochran Blair and Potts department store in Belton as a sales assistant for 44 years. At the age of 16, he became the first African-American radio announcer at KTEM Radio in 1960. He completed his Journalism Degree at Temple College and Prairie View A&M University. He also did a journalistic study at the formally known Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Belton and graduated from the University of Oklahoma’s television news seminar in 1975.
In 1968, Harrison became an Associate Editor of JET Magazine in Chicago. Founded in 1951 by John H. Johnson, JET Magazine was an American weekly magazine with the majority of its readers African-American. Johnson Publishing Company published the final print issue June 23, 2014. It is now solely a digital magazine app. Harrison spoke of how he covered the assassination and funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the turmoil of the country during the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement while he worked for the magazine.
“Roscoe Harrison watched history in the making during the Civil Rights Movement,” said Waskow principal Jill Ross. “It is important for us to invite him to come during Black History Month so our students can hear about his experiences which helps them prepare for their end-of-courses exams in history. They were able to hear from someone who was living during the Civil Rights Movement and this enables history to be brought to life.”
Harrison is active in several professional, civic and faith-based organization including the CARE Leadership Network, Communities-in-Schools Board, Bell County Judge and Commissioners Committee on People with Disabilities, Belton Educational Enrichment Foundation, President of the Temple Kiwanis Club, Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists), Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Public Relations Society of American and Press Club of Dallas. He became the first African-American reporter for the Temple Daily Telegram and the San Antonio Express-News in 1966 and 1967 and he was the first African-American television news anchor for KCEN-TV in 1970 which he later served as the station’s public affairs director. Harrison served as deputy press secretary for the late Texas Attorney General and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice John Hill. He currently is the host of the PBS television show FOCUS that airs on KNCT-TV twice a month and pastor of the Eighth Street Baptist Church in Temple.
Harrison is listed in Who’s Who among African-Americans, Who’s Who in Texas Public Relations, and Who’s Who in America.