VMRC resident, historian and author, Doris Harper Allen was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate from James Madison University during their December commencement ceremony.
Once barred from attending Madison College due to the racial barriers of the time, Ms. Allen instead left the Harrisonburg area to attend Marshall University in the early 1970s. She served the community of Huntington, West Virginia as an assistant early childhood teacher, as executive director of the Scott Community Center and as a board member of the A.D. Lewis Boys and Girls Club. Ms. Allen eventually returned to Harrisonburg and was heavily involved in the revitalization efforts in the Northeast neighborhood and was integral to the renaming of Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
Ms. Allen has published two books including a memoir and a history that paint a clear picture of the racial landscape of Harrisonburg in the 1950s and 1960s. Over the years, she has collaborated with numerous JMU faculty and students on various projects including the “Celebrating Simms” project of Drs. Mollie Godfrey and Sean McCarthy which led to a permanent exhibit highlight the impact of the Lucy Simms School. Through the years, Ms. Allen has been honored with numerous awards in both the Huntington, WV and Harrisonburg areas. They include the Huntington Black Professional and Business Women’s Award; the Carter G. Woodson Ph.D. Award for commitment and dedication to HIV/AIDS Prevention; the Shenandoah Valley Hit Newspaper Distinguished Female Community Service Award for outstanding contributions to the Shenandoah Valley; the Fifth District of Electra Prince Hall award for dedicated service of over 60 years; the Huntington NAACP’s Freedom Fund Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017; and the Black Girls Rock award from JMU’s Lambda Chi Chapter of AKA in 2017.
VMRC congratulates Ms. Allen on the honor of receiving an Honorary Doctorate from James Madison University and thanks her for the impact she has had on the Harrisonburg community.
JMU President, Dr. Jonathan Alger presents Doris Harper Allen with an Honorary Doctorate from James Madison University
Photo Courtesy of James Madison University