On Saturday, February 20, 2021 the First Annual Bryant Academy Grand School Reunion will take place virtually from 12 pm to 2 pm, via Facebook and YouTube.
Speaking about the significance of what is being called “a day of remembrance and festivity”, Dr. Joanne Mitchell Martin, a BA alumni, explains:
“With one exception, I attended Black schools all of my life: Bryant Academy, Peck High School, Florida A and M University, Atlanta University, and Howard University. My life was made and shaped in large part by these five institutions of learning. Each of them was a product of Jim Crow segregation. It was Bryant Academy that started me on this journey of awareness of my people’s triumphs and achievements, of an unconscionable abuse by an America that would enslave, lynch, disenfranchise, and economically deprive them; and yet my people’s willingness to remain loyal to America and steadfast in their fight for justice and freedom and equality for all of humanity, even when denied those rights themselves.”
The project to bring to fruition the commemoration of the Bryant Academy legacy and its principal James B. Bryant, in whose honor the school is named, can be traced back to February 17, 2020, when the Bryant Academy Reunion Planning Committee was formed. This group, made up of a small corps of alumni, set as their purpose to bring alumni and friends back to our former campus (what is now Yulee Elementary School) for the BA Grand School Reunion. The February Celebration will feature the Historical Marker Ceremony; Legacy Scholarship Awards and Recognition for High School Seniors; At the Feet of wisdom Panel; and Special Tribute Awards.
An aerial of Bryant Academy in 1953 (University of Florida)
Through the theme Being Literate, Being Free, a wax figure exhibit from The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland, will reinforce the historical importance of education to the African American community and the founding of BA. Yulee native, Dr. Joanne Mitchell Martin, and her late husband Dr. Elmer P. Martin established the Museum in 1983.
“None of this would have materialized if people from all over the nation had not generously donated to our fundraising event”, states Erving Gilyard, Committee Co-Chair. They gave to our Historical Marker campaign, our Scholarship initiative, and just in general. People also gave of their time, talent, networking resources, and so much more”.
Overall, the milestone event will pay tribute to the past and the future. It is hoped that it will illustrate for the citizens of Nassau County the importance of Bryant Academy to the history of African American education in the United States.
It is also hoped that this milestone February 20, 2021 event will be a symbol for future generations of the value of Bryant Academy- and schools like it- to the communities they served, the children they educated, and the values they transmitted.