OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – The man who made history by becoming the first Black member of the Opelika City Council passed away on Sunday at a Columbus Hospital. John Andrew Harris was 71. He died from complications of a heart attack according to his family.

Harris was elected in November 2022 to serve the people of Lee County in the District 5 Commissioner seat. He did not run in 2018. Previously, Harris represented the district for 24 years since first elected in 1994. Before that, he served on the Opelika City Council.

“The City of Opelika would like to send prayers to John Andrew Harris’ family and friends. Over the years, we have had the opportunity to work with John Andrew on a number of projects. His service to the community will be remembered by many,” said Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller.

Harris will be laid to rest on Saturday, January 21st,  at 2:00 PM central at St. Luke AME Church in Opelika. The entire community is invited to attend. Visitation will be Friday at 4:00 PM central at Harris Funeral Home. His family is in the process of setting up the remembrance program. If you’d like to be a part of Harris’s homecoming you can reach out to his daughter, Reneka Harris, on Facebook.

Harris was a gentleman who dedicated his life to empowering all citizens with a focus on civil rights issues and Lee County’s youth.  Harris treated everyone with respect and was quick to share compliments to unify Opelika and Lee County. He will be missed.