Tamara Harris Johnson

Tamara Harris Johnson

Tamara Harris Johnson is an attorney currently in private practice in Alabama, and her focus is on criminal, employment and appellate practice.  She is the former City Attorney for the City of Birmingham, serving two terms in the administration of former Mayor Bernard Kincaid and having the distinction of being the first female and youngest person to be appointed to this position.  She is a graduate of Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia, and Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C.

While serving as the City Attorney for Birmingham, Atty. Johnson served a four- year term as a Bar Examiner for the State of Alabama.  Her primary focus in her career has been as a trial attorney.  She is a trained advocate.  She has practiced law in Washington, D.C., Michigan, California, Georgia and Alabama.  She has tried more than 250 jury trials and hundreds of bench trials.  She is a former prosecutor for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.  She also taught Basic Skills in Trial Advocacy at Cumberland School of Law, Samford University.

Atty. Johnson is very involved in community and civic organizations.  She served four years as the National Legal Advisor for Jack & Jill of America, Incorporated, and she served on the National Legal Advisors Committee for The Girl Friends, Incorporated. She has served as National Secretary and National Vice President of The Girl Friends®, Incorporated, and as National Legislative Chair for The Links, Incorporated.  She is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama, and she currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alabama School of Fine Arts Foundation, Inc.  She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

She is the proud daughter of the late Dr. Samuel E. Harris and Mrs. Dixie Gardner Harris, and she is the proud mother of two daughters, Attorney Ashley Noelle Johnson, who lives in Maryland, and Dr. Erica Nicole Parker who with her husband, Dr. Joel Parker, practice Emergency Medicine in Indiana.  Atty. Johnson is a member of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.

In spite of segregation

My family and I moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1961. My father, Samuel Elliott Harris, M.D., had completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis, MO. He and my mother, Dixie Gardner Harris, grew up in Birmingham. My mother was the youngest of fifteen children of Billy and Roberta (Carson) Gardner of Lowndes County, AL. My mother’s older sister was Minnie Gardner Gaston who was married to Birmingham entrepreneur A.G. Gaston. My mother moved in with them at the age of eight years old, and she remained with them until entering college. My father and his family lived across the street from my mother in Birmingham. My paternal grandfather, originally from Huntsville, AL, was a physician, Samuel Francis Harris, M.D., having graduated from Meharry Medical College in 1916 or 1918. He was one of five sons, all of whom were educated and successful. My grandmother, Florita Augusta Elliott, was one of eight children originally from Moundville, AL. She taught school until she married my grandfather, and each of her siblings was educated and successful, as well. Her brother, Eugene Elliott, Sr., had graduated from Meharry Dental College in the early 1900s. My mother graduated from Tuskegee Institute, and she received her Masters Degree from New York University in 1952. My family believed in education, and they had instilled in my siblings and me a strong work ethic.

After my father completed his residency program, my parents decided to move the family to Birmingham intending for my father to join my grandfather’s medical practice and ultimately assume it upon my grandfather’s retirement. I was in the third grade when we moved. While in St. Louis, I had heard of the awful treatment of Blacks in the Deep South, particularly Alabama. I remember being horrified at the thought of moving to Birmingham where they hung Black children. (more…)