On Saturday, Aug. 4, the 69-year-old graduate of Northwestern High School and Edward Waters College will be honored at a dinner at the University Club that will also serve as a fundraiser for Edward Waters.
He’ll also do a book signing at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Crowne Plaza Hotel for his new book, a novel titled “The Durabone Prophecies.” In the novel, psychologist Franklin Durabone, after a near-death experience, decides to write a book based on the prophetic visions of his mother, “Mama Durabone.” who sees alternative destinies for Earth and the human race.
“The main message is we need to focus on saving ourselves as a species,” said Harper, himself a counseling psychologist.
While at Edward Waters, he did a teaching internship under Rutledge Pearson, the civil rights leader for whom a Jacksonville school is named. Harper then spent a year teaching at what was then known as Stanton Vocational High School on Ashley Street. Then he went to Florida A&M University, where he earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling.
In 1967, he was hired by what was then Florida Junior College as one of the first two blacks on the school’s staff.
It was not a happy experience. “The white secretary would not type for me,” he said.
The next year, he went to Florida State University where he worked as the first black counselor in the university’s counseling center while earning a doctorate. He joined the faculty of the school of education at Howard in Washington, D.C., in 1970.
The father of two and grandfather of three said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll stay in the Washington area. “I’m open to moving,” he said. “I’m even open to coming back to Florida. But I’ve got 32 first cousins, so I may not get much peace if I do.”
He has published a number of academic books and papers but in his heart he’s always been a poet and novelist, he said.
“I will continue to write,” he said. “I will travel. I will speak. Life is simple: You grow and you give.”
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