About the Mayor

On September 1, 2018, Lee Harris became the 6th Mayor of Shelby County, Tennessee.

Mayor Lee Harris is a fifth-generation Memphian, husband, dad, educator and public servant.  He is a proud product of Memphis’ public schools.  After graduating from Overton High School, Mayor Harris attended Morehouse College on a full tuition scholarship and was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus Scholarship, among numerous honors.  After Morehouse, he successfully worked his way through Yale Law School before returning home to begin his career in Memphis.

Mayor Harris worked as an associate at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz before his passion for education led him to the University of Memphis.  There, he was a professor for fourteen years, becoming the first African American tenured full professor of law in the school’s history.  He is also the inaugural holder of the Federal Express Professorship in Law and the author of two textbooks.

In 2011, Harris was elected to serve on the Memphis City Council.  As Councilman, Harris was a staunch advocate for empowering everyday residents and supporting our urban core.  He successfully led the fight for a new citywide non-discrimination ordinance, improved citizen engagement in advance of development projects, and fought to preserve and revitalize historic neighborhoods, like Victorian Village.  When a local employer failed to provide fair working conditions to its Memphis workers, Harris joined the picket line and camped out in front of the local plant to draw attention to the injustice.
Mayor Lee Harris Headshot
In 2014, Harris was elected to the State Senate, becoming the youngest senator in the state of Tennessee at the time.  He was an unwavering voice for neighborhoods, gun safety, environmental protections, broad anti-discrimination laws, respect for reproductive freedom and privacy, and a strong middle class.  Other Democratic senators selected him to serve as the Senate Minority Leader, making him the first African American to hold this rank in Tennessee history.

As a State Senator, Harris introduced bi-partisan legislation and, one year, passed more bills into law than any other Democrat.  Among his legislative initiatives, he pushed for treatment coverage for persons with sickle cell, a condition that plagues communities across the state; advocated for new laws to protect children from abuse; fought for expansion of recycling and environmentally-friendly practices in state government; championed new laws to reform the criminal justice system; helped create a system to ensure immediate public notification if lead is found in drinking water; and worked to expand community college scholarships for students with learning disabilities. 

As a political figure, Harris has always put the public’s interests first.  In October of 2017, he announced his intention to run for Mayor of Shelby County and committed to lead a conversation that focused on reducing poverty by investing in education, families, and neighborhoods.  He branded this “A New Era for Shelby County.” Over the course of his campaign, Mayor Harris hosted over 100 “New Era” events and led discussions about funding pre-K education, expanding vo-tech opportunities in high schools, reducing neighborhood blight, investing in the County’s workforce, and ultimately lifting 50,000 people out of poverty. On August 2, 2018, he was elected Mayor of Shelby County with 55% of the vote.

Mayor Lee Harris has won numerous awards because of his work in politics and government, including selection to the prestigious Aspen-Rodel Fellows program and as a New Deal Leader.  He lives in the heart of Midtown Memphis with his wife Professor Alena Allen and their three children Lee, Claudia, and Lou.