Richard B. Harrison

Richard Berry Harrison (at right, with Mayor George Wenige) points to the location of his former boyhood home on Wellington Street near the river.
Richard B. Harrison (1864-1935) was a London-born actor, whose parents, both former slaves, escaped to Canada in the 1850s. The family remained in London until 1880 when they moved to Detroit, where Harrison trained as an elocutionist. His stage work, which took him all over Canada and the United States, was comprised of dramatic monologues, as well as readings of poetry and literature.
The role that would make him famous was that of "De Lawd” in a play called the Green Pastures. Seen today as somewhat patronizing and fostering African-American stereotypes, the play at the time was well received. It won the Pulitzer Prize for author Marc Connolly in 1931 the same year that Harrison received the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, presented annually for outstanding achievement by a Black American. Harrison toured with a production of the Green Pastures to over 200 cities including London, his hometown.
In 2019, London playwright and actor Jeff Culbert, created a one-man theatre piece entitled "Elocution: The Life of Richard Berry Harrison” starring legendary Canadian actor Walter Borden. It can be heard at