Doug Harris ('98)
The right stuff
Doug Harris vividly remembers his hectic schedule the year he graduated with his Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. At the same time, Harris held down a fulltime job for the city of Richmond-and served as the executive director of Athletics United for Peace (AUP), a nonprofit organization in Oakland dedicated to helping youth overcome challenges through athletics. He found himself commuting from Oakland to CSUMB on an almost daily basis.
Somehow, he made it all happen.
"After volunteering to set up exhibition basketball teams for the AUP on a part-time basis, its departing executive director asked me to take his post," Doug recalls. "At the time, I was a fulltime recreation and parks professional for the city of Richmond."
In 1993, Doug accepted the executive director position, which he continues in today.
"At AUP our focus is on the young people who live in Oakland, San Francisco, and Richmond. These kids are living in a war zone."
Throughout his career, Doug has succeeded in furthering his principal passions: helping young people succeed in their lives through athletics and producing documentary videos of value to the community. The same year that Doug enrolled at CSUMB he established the AUP Digital Technology Academy, a 10-week media arts program that introduces teens to the ever-growing field of digital video and multimedia integration. Through this work, Doug produced a series of award-winning documentaries titled An Exploration of Our History. The documentaries chronicled and preserved the history of communities in Contra Costa County.
His latest documentary, Bounce: The Don Barksdale Story, grew out of his CSUMB Capstone project and airs on Fox Sports Network Bay Area in February 2007. The film recounts the life and work of Don Barkdale, the first black NBA All-Star. In a recent LA Times article about the film, Harris explained that Barksdale was "kind of like the Jackie Robinson of basketball."
"I had met Don prior to the 1983 NBA draft," says Doug, a former Berkeley High School basketball star and NAIA All American at Central Washington. "He was a scout for the Golden State Warriors and he made a recommendation for the team to draft me. What I didn't know at the time was that he was a true pioneer in basketball." After being the Warriors' No. 8 draft pick in 1983, Doug played overseas for several years.
"When it came time to do my Capstone, the film about Don came to mind, especially since he'd been in the Army at Fort Ord." Doug hoped to raise the public's awareness of the legendary player with the project.
As chronicled in Harris' documentary, Barksdale was college basketball first African American consensus All-American as a senior at UCLA in 1947. He was the first black basketball player on the U.S. Olympic team, winning a gold medal in London in 1948. He broke the color line in the AAU's national industrial league, which welcomed him when the NBA would not. And he was the first African American to play in the NBA All-Star game, suiting up for the East in 1953.
Harris' efforts have helped land Barksdale in halls of fame honoring California community college athletes, African American athletes, Bay Area athletes and Pacific 10 Conference athletes. "I would like young people to know about Don, know about his legacy, the way they know about Jackie Robinson," Harris told theTimes.