Alexandria City Council officially moved Saturday to rename the city fields adjacent to George Washington Middle School after slain community activist Lenny Harris.
Located at the busy corner of Braddock Road and Mount Vernon Avenue, the redubbed Lenny Harris Memorial Fields at Braddock Park are frequently traversed by Metro commuters and used for youth sports and community events.
“He was a glue in the community and the love and the caring he has shown lives on,” Councilwoman Del Pepper said. “And I think the naming of this field is going to remind people that his spirit lives on.”
Harris, 53, went missing in Alexandria in Sept. 21, 2011. After a months-long search, his body was found in a Fort Washington, Md., well on Jan. 26, 2012.
In September, Tyrone Lewis was convicted of first-degree murder in Harris’ death.
Family and friends took Saturday’s hearing as a time to remember Harris, who was active in local politics and community issues. He presented the annual One Love Community Festival at the fields that now bear his name.
Each year, Harris outfitted in-need kids at the festival with new backpacks and classroom supplies for the school year.
“We often look to hold up those kids that are making it,” former councilmember Bill Cleveland said. “But those ones falling through the cracks are the ones Lenny looked for.”
City resident Tony Suggs, a former top-ranked amateur boxer in the late 1980s, said Harris helped him get his life in order after he fell into drugs following the crib death of his daughter in 1987.
“It was Lenny who taught me how to grow up and be a man,” Suggs said. “He was my sponsor, my mentor, my brother my friend. … He showed me how to turn my mess into a mission. I am forever grateful for this. I applaud the council for making the decision to name the field.”
Mayor Bill Euille said Harris, a graduate of T.C. Williams High School and one-time business owner on Mount Vernon Avenue, was his unofficial youth advisor who would be the mayor's eyes and ears in the community. The pair would talk at all hours about different issues facing the city.
"Lenny certainly had an impact on each and every one of us, but he left us with something. He left us with an inspiration," Euille said. "He left us with a hope and a desire to continue his legacy.”