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Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Peyton Harris 1971 - 1882

This biography was originally released on August 15, 2022 as a part of our on going series titled: Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Written by Madison Matthews on the Staff of The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission

Peyton Harris was born December 25, 1971 in Powhatan County, Virginia. Harris was a businessman who owned a clothing store and dry cleaning businesses. Harris married his wife Rebecca and their kids and grandkids. Harris served in the 4th Regiment of Booth’s Georgia Militia during the War of 1812.

In 1833, Harris moved to Buffalo, New York where he became involved in the Erie Canal owning many canal boats. While Harris was in Buffalo, he helped raise enough funds to help reconstruct a church that helped with the abolishment of segregation and guiding people in the right direction. Then in 1849 Harris was elected as a president of the National Colored Convention.

After the Civil War, Harris would fight for the rights of African Americans. So in 1870, Harris went to the Buffalo Common Council and Superintendent of Schools to end segregation in public schools.

Sadly in 1882 at 90 years old, Peyton Harris died being the oldest African American citizen in the region.   

Thank you to our sources:

We want to give a special thanks to Uncrowned Community Builders for providing the information for this story. Further readings on Peyton Harris are available on their websites.

If you have additional resources about Peyton Harris, please email us to let us know!

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