82-year-old honored for lifetime achievement, keeping school’s historic name alive – KION546

By WLOS Staff

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ASHEVILLE, NC (WLOS) – A Canton man who led efforts to turn a historic African-American high school into a community center was honored Saturday, August 20 for his achievements in the community and for his dedication to keeping the name of the living historic black school.

Thomas “Boogie” Bryant, 82, president of the Reynolds High Alumni Association, has made it his mission.

Currently, Bryant is battling cancer. On Saturday, others who also attended the Canton school during segregation came to pay their respects to Bryant, unbeknownst to him.

“I just appreciate people, and I was really shocked, because my friend told me they were going to honor her, but they honor me! That’s why I can’t hold on – I’m in tears. I’m in tears and I thank them for what they did to help me,” Bryant said.

Another well-known Reynolds High School alumnus is Billy McDowell, husband of singer Gladys Knight.

McDowell and Knight are the ones who bought the school and created a non-profit organization, converting it into the East Haywood County Community Center.

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