For 1963 graduates of Bernard High School, it’s been 50 years since they earned their high school diplomas.
The all-black school, which was segregated for the 1964-65 school year, had 13 graduates in its class of ’63. Of the nine still living today, four gathered recently at the home of local resident Bill Ramsey for a cookout and to remember old times.
One class member, John L. Hudgins, made the trip from Georgia to attend. Also in attendance were Anna Thomas Harris, Robert Harris and Ramsey.
“I had not seen John since he went into the Marines in the mid to late ’60s,” said Ramsey. “We were also able to talk to some twins who live out in Arizona. They were unable to come due to illness, but we talked to them on Skype for about 30 minutes.”
In the 50 years since graduation, class members have scattered all over the country. Ramsey said four still live locally, while one has moved to Colorado and another is in Florida.
“We all went our separate ways after graduation,” said Ramsey. “I went to TSU then served 20 years in the Air Force and lived all over the place. Now I have relocated back here.”
In addition to Ramsey, Bill Nowlin also signed up for military service when he enlisted in the Marines.
Ramsey said the mindset was certainly different when he was in school in the 1950s and ’60s, although attitudes were beginning to change.
“I rode the school bus, but at that time we were still sitting in the back of the bus,” said Ramsey. “With the civil rights movement in Nashville and other big cities, it was starting to change.”
Bernard School was located behind what is now Delta Express on Beersheba Street. It began as a seven-teacher school in 1921 and served the community for 47 years. It was an all-black school until segregation in ’64-65. It was named in honor of O.H. Bernard and closed in 1968.
The 1963 Bernard graduates were Robert L. Harris, Johnnie L. Hudgins, Alice M. League, James E. Lusk, Chiquita V. Martin, Linda G. Martin, William M. Nowlin, William L. Ramsey, Rollie Settles, Zollie Settles, Mary K. Solomon, Anna Jo Thomas, and Thomas F. Woods.