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Black History Month

Celebration honors a county hero as part of black history

Friends and family gathered Saturday to honor the memory of slain sheriff's Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison, who "chose to make a difference."

Published February 15, 2004

ZEPHYRHILLS - With songs of hope and faith, more than 100 people packed into City Hall on Saturday for a celebration of Black History Month and a chance to reflect on the life of a fallen hero.

The annual Black History Month program this year honored Pasco County Sheriff's Office Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison, shot to death June 1 while on duty in Trilacoochee.

"The key is that we remember how this man, one man, chose to make a difference, and he never quit," Sheriff Bob White told the crowd. "This is the impact that one life can have if that life is willing to serve other people."

Harrison, 57, was days away from retirement after more than 30 years with the Sheriff's Office when he was killed. But White said he never intended to stop serving. After retirement, White said, Harrison planned to return to duty as a court bailiff and as a recruiter for the Sheriff's Office. He was elevated posthumously to the rank of captain.

Throughout the program of speeches, spiritual songs and dance, Harrison's legacy was present. His family sat in the front row, and his face looked down from posters at the front of the City Council chambers.

Reading a list of great black leaders, including scientists, politicians, surgeons and politicians, Zephyrhills Police Officer Daniel Hill added Harrison's name, recalling him as "a community leader and a role model for all."

"There is more to our heritage than slavery, suffering and hardship," Hill said.

City Council President Lance Smith said there are still problems in the world and evidence daily of people who have lost their way and refuse to seek unity. He cited the recent flap in Zephyrhills over renaming Sixth Avenue in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "The last time we had a bigger crowd than this in here was when we tried to name a street after Dr. Martin Luther King," Smith said. "And that's not right. I'm ashamed of that."

But by working together, Smith said, obstacles can be overcome, and there is hope for the future.

White said Harrison's memory will live on in Pasco County and serve as an example of what faith, dedication and kindness can achieve. His killer can't take that away.

"The evil that tried to take his life that Saturday night failed," White said. "It may have taken his body, but not his spirit. It may have taken his breath, but not his voice."

[Last modified February 15, 2004, 01:15:45]

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