In 1974, Boston’s schools were ordered to desegregate. It was a tumultuous time and Bryant was a young reporter and activist in the middle of it all. In November 2021, PBS and American Experience sent a film crew from Boston to interview Bryant in Jacksonville. Bryant discussed with them the history and impact of the events surrounding the court-ordered busing on the city. The documentary premiered on PBS on 9/11/23, and is available to watch online here:
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Shirley says “He was hoarse and getting tired a lot, and he was worried he would not be able to endure a long session of taping. I was there throughout the day off camera, with warm pineapple juice and high energy snacks to sustain him. Once the interview started, he was channeling his 1974 self! I sat just off camera with all my helper supplies for 9 long and amazing hours! We stopped for a lunch break and he dozed in the car before getting back to the work at hand. They taped him at the famous Bowles Prep School where the Bush twins attended HS during their father’s tenure in the White House. It was very intentional. They kept moving him around during the day so they could shoot different angles. These two filmmakers are brilliant! They have spliced and diced those 9 hours of taping to making it look like Bryant is almost narrating the live events. After he shares each vivid memory, they have spliced in the news reels he describes in giving his responses to their questions during the day of taping. They have enough stuff to make numerous films, and he happily gave them written permission to use whatever they want, whenever they want to use it.”
This 90 minute documentary aired on PBS nationally on Monday 9/11/23 and is available to watch freely, with additional articles and other material on the website:
Abraham, Malikkah, and Shirley are quietly working to prepare the manuscript for publication. Progress is never as fast as we would like, and it is a challenge to be coordinating all of the moving parts and details across long distances and busy schedules. We are trying to stay true to Bryant’s vision, and even though he is not with us in person we feel his guidance through the process. It is particularly encouraging and motivating to see his voice, work, legacy, and impact continuing to ripple through things like this PBS documentary. While we do not have an exact estimated publication date, we will continue to keep friends and supporters updated.
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