Written by Andi Agnew | Photographed by Paul Wolf
“My name is August Harp; I’m a white boy living in Jackson, Mississippi…”
This was Harp’s way of introducing himself to readers of the JXN Pulse, an online publication produced by the Mississippi Youth Media Project.
Harp was a junior at Murrah High School when he wrote those words in 2016 as part of an award-winning piece, “Ego, and the Fear of Losing.”
Today, he is a first-year student attending Pearl River Community College (PRCC), where he was awarded a scholarship to play soccer.
Harp says his experiences attending a public school in Jackson made him a better person.
“It gave me an opportunity not a lot of people get — you understand where others are coming from, and how important it is to be an advocate for people,” he says.
Soccer is Harp’s passion (“pretty much every day [at PRCC] is devoted to it,” he says), but as a youngster, he needed some persuasion to give it a try.
“I’ve always been a little hesitant with everything that I’ve done — my parents had to make me try things. But I’ve always been a competitive person — even with board games and things like that – I couldn’t handle losing. Soccer gave me a way to vent that energy.”
He eventually found a love and natural talent for the sport. Harp played at Murrah and also with the Mississippi Rush, a select team under the umbrella of the Mississippi
“(We) won state pretty much every year I was on the team,” Harp says. At the same time, the Murrah soccer team was ranked among the lowest in the state.
Harp wrote about the contrast between the two teams for the Youth Media Project.
“To truly grasp the differences between them, you must first understand these simple facts,” he said in 2016. “Murrah has 1,600 students: 93.52 percent of the school is African American, and 5.30 percent are white students. Fifteen of the 18 players on my select team are white, while I am one of two white boys on the Murrah soccer team, which consists of 22 players. Many of my select teammates attend private schools and could afford La Bernardin every meal, while most of my high school teammates cannot afford school lunch.”
When asked where he sees himself in five years, Harp admits that it’s difficult to predict what life will be like that far in advance. Currently an undecided major, he definitely wants to remain involved with soccer — as a player and a coach. He is interested in physical therapy and photojournalism. Photography is something he has been into since his days as a student at Power APAC.
Harp says he would like to pursue a career that allows for him to write at least part of the time. “My mom is an English teacher at Murrah; she won’t let me not write,” he says with a chuckle.