Slain Alexandria activist Lenny Harris sponsored a community festival every year. Almost a year since he was murdered, the festival goes on with the leadership of his wife.
Deborah Harris said she wanted to hate those charged with her husband’s death, but she feels she has to forgive, and she's giving back by continuing her husband's legacy.
“I have my days,” she said. “Some days are better than other days. My daughter, she still struggles, but she keeps pushing.”
Lenny Harris was shot and killed last September. His body was dumped in a well in Prince George's County.
“I wanted to really hate the ones who did it,” Deborah Harris said. “I really wanted to, but there’s something inside that won't let me.”
She is stepping in to continue the One Love Festival in her husband’s memory.
“We may have lost a man, but we haven’t lost his mission,” she said.
She plans to provide backpacks filled with school supplies for kids and to have friends offer memories of her late husband.
“I know I'm not filling his shoes but I’m just carrying on something that he would have wanted,” Deborah Harris said.
After the arrest of one of the suspects, he was linked to two other killings. Investigators closed those cases because of Lenny Harris's death.
“Other people were able to have closure even though it was my husband, but it was something I believe that he would have said, ‘OK, my death is not all in vain,’” Deborah Harris said.
Losing her husband was not the first time she has dealt with personal tragedy. Her 18-year-old son was killed in D.C. years ago.
“My son's death helped prepare me for my husband's, meaning that I wouldn’t just totally break down and just lose it,” she said.
She said her faith in God has helped her to push forward, and helping youth by spearheading the festival has given her direction.
“He would be proud to know that we loved him enough to carry on what he wanted carried on," she said.
The Lenny Harris One Love Legacy Festival is scheduled for noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 18 in the field next to George Washington Middle School on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria.