Harris is a man of many faces

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 6, 2006

When his wife, Cora, first met him, she thought he was just another “military man” passing through Autauga County. But after 37 years of marriage, the Rev. Lacornia Harris has proven to be much more.

Currently serving as the pastor of Aimwell Baptist Church, co-owner of Kora’s Place restaurant, and a member of both the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce and the area’s Ministerial Alliance,

Lacornia Harris has come a far way from the teen that was once fired from Mr. Wilbert Atkinson’s Food Fair.

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“I worked there for four years,” Harris recalled, “Then in 1964 I joined the Air Force- after I got fired from Food Fair.”

On May 11, 1964, Harris became a supply specialist for the United States Air Force and dealt with the paperwork side of the armed forces for ten years before earning a new title.

“I spent the next twelve years as a human relations, education and equal opportunity specialist where I taught human relations and worked discrimination complaints,” he said. “I spent the last two years in the Air Forces as a noncommissioned officer in charge of human relations, education and equal opportunity.”

In 1976, in the middle of his military career, Harris

became an ordained minister.

The irony of being a minister in the armed forces would have been an internal struggle for most, but for Harris who strongly believed in his purpose, the situation proved to be no obstacle.

“You have to know yourself and know what you believe and what you stand for,” he said.

While in the military, the Old Spring Hill native said he learned many lessons that have shaped him into the man he is today.

“The Air Force showed me that I was prejudice, but it taught me how to get along with everybody,” Harris said. “Then it allowed me to see areas of the world I would not have been able to see otherwise.”

Traveling back and forth from Alabama to Greece, Texas, England, Vietnam, Kansas, and Holland, not only allowed Harris to experience the world, but it opened the eyes of his wife and their four children.

“When I met Lacornia, he was already in the military and I was a teacher. But everywhere he went, we went,” she said,

“and I was teaching wherever he was stationed. That was the best learning experience we could ever provide for our children.”

And even though Harris thought a college education was obsolete for him, he made sure all his children graduated with a bachelor’s degree at the least. Changing his mind in his 40s, Harris also made the decision to become a college graduate.

In 1990 he earned a bachelor of religion from Selma University and in 1998, he completed a program at Briarwood Seminary in Birmingham to earn his master’s in religion.

“It’s not too often when you can say every one in the family has a college degree,” he said with a smile.

When Harris made the decision to retire from the Air Force in 1987,

he moved from Illinois back to Marengo County, where he soon became pastor at New Aimwell Baptist Church.

“After I retired, I wanted a restaurant,” he said. “And I didn’t have one for 15 years until Dave and Fannie Spears decided they wanted to rest and sold their business to us.”

Although the Harris’ kept most of the Spears’ original menu selections, they renamed the restaurant on First Avenue “Kora’s Place” after a year of ownership.

Six years later, Kora’s place has moved to Highway 43 and has become an area favorite. But the restaurant means more to Harris, than being a place to eat.

“Even though this is a restaurant, we see it as a ministry,” he said. “This is not only where people come to dine, but to fellowship and get to know each other without fear or apprehension of what others may say.”

And after spending the most of his life in Marengo County, Lacornia Harris isn’t just a member of the Chamber, he’s a voice of the community and he isn’t just a pastor, but a support system, as well.

“He’s always been one to help someone, but I never thought it would be so much as it is now,” Cora said. “He is caring, compassionate, and loving.

If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would do the same. I don’t regret having become his wife.”