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Oral History Interview with Senior Business Analyst Harry Bryant

The goal, what I feel comfortable about now, is that we have the skill set and the documentation and presentation to show and preserve the culture of the historic Callahan area. It’s going to take some time, but the good thing about it is that we can get history respected across all those unique entities that we have now that make up this unique, great City BeautifulExcerpt from an Oral History Interview with Senior Business Analyst Harry Bryant on April 4, 2023.

Harry Bryant is a Senior Business Analyst Consultant and Orlando native. Mr. Bryant grew up in the Historic Callahan Neighborhood and graduated from Callahan Elementary School before pursing his professional education at Florida A & M University, University of Wisconsin, and Georgia Tech Graduate School of Architecture. Harry Bryant serves in a leadership role on the Board of the Callahan Neighborhood Association working to preserve the community heritage in the footsteps of his mother, Alma A. Bryant, who was one of the original Directors of the Callahan Neighborhood Association.  We welcome you to hear firsthand about the extraordinary cultural legacy of Callahan and the technology leadership of Orlando, which is bringing that heritage forward from Harry Bryant, a legacy Callahan family member.

Good afternoon, I am Harry Bryant born here in Orlando, Florida, born and raised in the historic Callahan Neighborhood here in Orlando.

So you’re an Orlandoan.

Orlandoan, all day. And it was interesting that I went to public school here in Orlando.

Public School in Orlando

I am a graduate of Callahan Elementary School. Went on to Howard Junior School. Went on to Jones High School. And at graduation, I wanted to go to college. I’m a graduate of Florida A & M University, one of the largest HBCU’s here in Florida. Upon graduation I wanted to get as far as possible from Florida. (Laugh.)

Graduate School at University of Wisconsin

So I went to a graduate school to the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wisconsin for two years. I had a great time there. And after Wisconsin – I’m a lifelong learner – so after grad school in Wisconsin I decided to go to Georgia Tech in Atlanta. And then, so, through that whole – I tell everyone, my life is, it’s like a diversified portfolio of life experiences, both education and knowing different things. So after all of my schooling, I decided to go out in the real world and get a job. And eventually I decided to come back to take care of an aging parent. And I came back home to Callahan.

That’s all very impressive, your educational path.

The thing about it, I had, growing up I had peers that we all were interested either in music or school, right. So my background started out as music, basically. So growing up, mom – there’s five of us – three boys and two girls. I’m part of the younger set. Mom, we had, in addition to our schooling, each one of us had to take piano lessons and play an instrument. So that activity just caused us to always be engaged in something.

Music Degree at Florida A & M University

So because we were part of something, and the next thing I know, you know, I was kind of good in school. And I just went on and I got my music degree at FAMU. I continued and got that Master’s degree in Curriculum Instruction in Wisconsin. And then out of the clear blue sky after teaching for a while, I wanted to do something completely different.

Georgia Tech Graduate Studies in Architecture

And I went to Georgia Tech to study Architecture. So it was a big circle. And I laugh because it was like I was never at a place long enough. But growing up, I recall Mom and one of my mentors, Mr. James W. Wilson saying that, “You can be and do anything you want!” So I never thought about longevity. I said okay I’ll try this. I’ll try that. And each one I was very successful. I look back and I’m like, wow, dude, you did a lot.

Was it so inspiring to enter into these different fields? Music and Architecture

You know, it was all about creativity. And the thing about the arts is that it’s what you bring. So you come in with a skill set of musicality, right. But then, you can develop. You can go either in the band, the jazz band, or symphony. And on top of all of that, even though I was instrumental, my passion was piano. I am really a classical pianist. I studied here locally with Mrs. Leslie Brayboy Weaver. She was an organist for the Shiloh Baptist Church.

Classical Pianist to FAMU Marching 100 Band

And I went on to, when I went to FAMU, I studied with Dr. Roberts. And so, you know, Two-Part Inventions, Claire de Lune, all the classical things. So when I got to Tallahassee, I either had instrumental music or I thought about studying piano. The thing about it was that all of my friends were instrumental and we all went and played in the infamous Marching 100 Band. I wanted to be with my friends. So I joined. I gave up the piano and I joined the FAMU Marching Band where I served four years.

President of the FAMU Marching 100 Band

I was also the section leader and President of the Band. And Vice President of Kappa Kappa Si which is the music fraternity. So looking back, I was busy a lot...

Who helped you develop your leadership skills?

Two people. My mom just from a beginning of how to deal with, you know, family and the community. She was very engaged in the community. Then, my mentor, Mr. James W. Wilson, Chief Wilson, Jones High School, one of the best music programs in the state of Florida. And those two taught me several things about life. What it took to be dedicated and committed to something. And I look back, they were always presetting the example.


Mom taught us how to deal with community and others in the community: faith, integrity. So you learn those things because that’s the way of the norm.

Mr. James “Chief” Wilson

Mr. Wilson taught us, once you get outside that family bubble, this is how you now need to deal with people. Even though music was the foundation of it, he presetted the example of how you deal with different people. So through my life I realized I wanted to be a teacher. So before a business analyst, I actually taught because I wanted to be just like my mentor, Mr. Wilson. I taught music. I was the Department Chairman for the Music Department in Fort Wayne, Indiana at Elmore’s High School. We had an award winning marching band and jazz band. We put on a Choral Festival each year. One year we had the show group Manhattan Transfer. And then part of the jazz band, we brought in Maynard Ferguson and Louis Bellson.

Teaching at South Carolina State University

After two to three years at Elmore’s High School, I went on to the college level and I taught at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina which is one of the largest HSBCU’s in South Carolina.

Georgia Tech Architectural Graduate Program

And then at that point I decided to make that shift and I went to Architecture at Georgia Tech. So you see those different things and different entities allowed me just to meet people that was different; that was just as crazy as I am. And it was just learning. Seeing things as life progressed, of that bond, so you can build relationships. It’s kind of storied.

How did you like Georgia Tech?

You know, Georgia Tech was difficult and the reason why, because music, I just had that talent. I could go in and play any and everything, sight reading. When I got to Georgia Tech, I had to switch that thinking of creativity. Because now you had to bring that – how we reference building design, creativity with design. And believe it or not, what I did find out is there is a correlation between music and architecture. And the reason why is that geometrically they’re all even. You know everything’s two, four, six, eight in music. In architecture, at the time, classical architecture, everything is you either had two columns, four columns… So that was interesting.

Georgia Tech Engineering Classes

I had a great knack for design. But when it came down to those engineering classes, you know, because we would come in and we would build these designs. And then our instructor would say, “How do you build it?” And so, we never think about how to take it to that next step. So we had to take those engineering classes and that centrifugal force between a corner to another corner just did not compute. But it was fun. It was fun. Two years there.

Georgia Tech Architectural Studio

We had a studio and it was a studio that stayed open 24 hours a day. So we basically slept on the couches especially when we had juries to present our creativity. So never went home. Never went home. I was always there trying to come up with the very perfect design. And it was corny, but I look back now and go like, wow! You know, it was fun. It was fun.

It is quite an achievement to go from one area like Music into a whole other area [Architecture] at a top level school like Georgia Tech.

And that’s the thing about it. The interesting thing about it was, that it was part of the graduate program. So, Georgia Tech felt that because I had already gone through undergrad; had already gone through the master’s graduate program with the University of Wisconsin, they had a program for graduate students all of those basic classes was taken are of. So you actually came in running, creating designs.

Seaside, Florida

One of my first designs we did coming in, we went up to Seaside, Florida... It’s a new modern city, shot gun houses, very modern. So we stayed a weekend there. Our project was that we had to select a building to add to the community. And so, you know, other kids they were designing homes and houses and churches, the post office. I decided to design the school.

Classical Brick School Design

And it was funny because if you’ve ever been to Seaside, Seaside is all these funky shotgun houses, really modern. And so, I come here with this classical brick school that the kids could go to. But it was fun once again just to see how to put that art, creativity into a real form so I thought that was interesting.

Design Contest

We had a contest. So my classmate who won, Steven, he won the best design. He decided to design a brothel. Which is interesting because it allowed, it was part of the architecture, but it allowed traffic to come in and out and raise a family. The design of it was just unbelievable. You never would have thought it was a brothel. Just because he was this weird kid anyway who was like I’m going to do something completely different. And we’re going, “You’re going fail.” But he had the jurors going like, “Whoa, this is nice.”

Speaking of areas of living places what was your neighborhood like growing up?

I did some history, some research on that when I came back to take care of mom in 2007. Growing up it was just a basic neighborhood. You know, we went to church. We went to schools. We knew all of our neighbors. At the time it was growing from an infrastructure perspective. You know the roads were dirt but we started part of the process to get them paved, to get streetlights. So it was a normal community.


And I did some research and the evolution of it was that I found the property deed of our property back in 1870, it was Township Number 22, Section 26. So I followed the trail. I said that’s cool. And then in 1917, it then became part of the Orange County Registry and it was actually called Sunnyside. So it went from Township, Number 22 to Sunnyside. And I said, I never heard that growing up. I said, that’s interesting.

Callahan Neighborhood Subdivision in Parramore

So mom was one of the original directors on the Callahan Neighborhood Association which started in 1978. At that point growing up, I was in that growing up stage, I thought of it as being Callahan. Because we all went to Callahan so I assumed that. And it wasn’t until when I returned in 2007 that we took that big umbrella of calling it Parramore. And so, what happened growing up we never called it Parramore. We basically called it Callahan. So now as part of pride of ownership, I like calling it Callahan in Parramore because it’s a subdivision of Parramore.

Neighborhood Culture

And then come to find out, in that little niche, we had Callahan, then we had Lake Dot, you know, which is additional areas that have their own culture. And I knew everybody who went to Callahan, who went to Jones. We all went to the same church. It was all we knew. And we didn’t have to go far to play with our classmates or family. Because either you are around the corner or you are coming back. So it was just the way it was. And that area was, growing up was a mixture of commercial and residential. So it’s not like today where we drive to go to Walmart. Everything was there. The grocery store was there. The barber shop was there. The salons were there. It was just walking up the street and come back and wave at neighbors.

What did most of the people do for a living?

And that was interesting, growing up I thought basically families, right. And then when I came back and started doing some research – the Callahan Neighborhood Association leadership reached out to me because growing up mom would talk about me all the time with the group. Once they found out that I came back home they asked if I would support there for mom. So I said, “Sure, I’ll stand in the gap.”

Working Class Neighborhood

And so, the interesting thing about it was that when I started, that lightbulb started clicking because then I realized that Callahan was, it was an area that was uniquely for the working class. And at the time, I don’t think we were called poor, it was just everyone went to work. You would just go to work. But it was a mixture of either maids, cooks, or truck drivers. So I look back and I go like, okay, wow. Dad was a truck driver. My neighbor was a truck driver. Mom was a professional cook. She worked at Montgomery Wards for at least ten years. She retired from Walgreens Restaurant after thirty years.

Professionals and Laborers

And then across the street, now don’t get me wrong, there were professionals. There was a dentist on the street. There was a doctor on the street. But the majority of the folks there, they were all laborers. And I look around, in fact, across the street there was a family that picked peas. I can remember growing up the orange grove bus driving around, but I didn’t put two and two together. So I looked back and as I studied the area, it was an area where the working class stayed.

Seasonal Housing for Harvest Laborers

And interesting thing about it was, and I don’t know if it was intentional, but Callahan became seasonal because of the weather. We think before Disney World it was all vegetation. It was all farming. You were out picking peas, picking corn. But it wasn’t the tourists. Because it was seasonal, certain things grew certain times of the year. So that if you look at the makeup of the area is that, there are a lot of residents that was either single family dwellings that were used just when it was planting and harvest time. And I didn’t even recognize that. I just thought, okay, wow, my neighbor’s been there for years and years. But no, it was all part of it. And then what happened was then the landowners or the managers of the property, built duplexes and apartment complex for the seasonal workers at a discounted rate for working in the fields.

My Grandfather’s Property

Now knock on wood with a blessing, our property, it was owned by, it was bought by my grandfather so it was part of the family. So we were probably one of the few landowners over there in Callahan. But if you look around and do a survey, there’s a lot of apartment complexes that kind of pretty much did that work of the large families that was part of the labor force.

Six Churches in the Callahan Neighborhood

And, you know, even with churches you go around and there are six churches over there in Callahan believe it or not in that little small radius. But you look at and I start analyzing the membership of the churches. Some of the churches was related to what type of work you did from a labor perspective. So for example, I’m a member of Carter Tabernacle CME Church. So the majority of my friends parents growing up was either a cook or a maid. And I didn’t put those two and two together growing up because we weren’t thinking about profession. But you go like oh, wow, so not only did we go to church with my neighbors, we went to school with them as well and we had a common bond. And we never thought about those laborer differences. It was just everyone got up in the morning, go to work.

Are there places in the area in your neighborhood that stand out or certain events? Were there certain community traditions that took place?

It started with Callahan Elementary School as the hub. Prior to Callahan that building was the original Jones High School. It evolved from Johnson Academy to Jones High School in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. So Callahan initially was the high school. And Jones High School was the center hub of that section of town. We don’t want to say it was the black side or white side, it was that section of town. If you think about the smallness, it wasn’t as if, that we didn’t have major streets, right. I thought about it doing my research as well. Livingston Street which we thought was, you know, went from East to West, prior to Livingston Street in 1917, it was actually called Pinewood. Federal was called Murdoch so those they were not long streets. But anyway, that area, that focal point was Jones High School, the original Jones High School.

Jones High School Converted to Elementary School

Jones High School through desegregation moved to a new location and that, the Jones High School was then converted into an elementary school. Which is cool because it was an elementary school with a facility of a high school similar to Howard and Orlando High School. Howard was originally called Orlando High School and then it was converted into Howard Junior High School. So the junior high school kids had the efficiencies and the facilities of a high school.

Callahan Community Network

So Callahan became the center of that little community network of where you got your schools, you got the churches. And part of it, when the school closed, the building set for about a decade. Because at that time, the focus was building up infrastructure. And so, the school board was growing, but it’s not like they had money to demolish it. So eventually they sold it to the city. So the city, you know for a while once again, they had other things to worry about like street lighting and paved roads. Eventually the proposal came about that either they were going to tear it down and make it basketball courts and the City leaders, my mom and her neighbors fought against that. They didn’t want that. They wanted to keep the tradition of the school, Callahan.

Callahan Neighborhood Center

And so they fought, not fought from a perspective, they raised enough sand to say that okay we’ll keep the school and we’ll make it part of the Neighborhood Center’s part of the program with the City. Which makes sense, right. So now in addition to the City now taking that property, we have our own little Neighborhood Center which is once again just part of that community engagement.

Historic Preservation of the Jones High School Facade

But there was one stipulation that those leaders wanted. They wanted that building front facade to remain so that they know the cultural significance of Callahan and Jones High School. So in architecture to keep a facade just in itself back in those days was very expensive. Because it’s not just like tearing down that building and holding up the front. The way the construction was there, it wasn’t where that the materials was the last thing for 20, 30, or 40 years. So when they took the facade up, they had to reinforce that facade which is even more money to add on to it. And then they add the amenities.

Keeping the Character of Callahan

And so, I look at that and I thought about that. And I think that my Mom, Mrs. Woodley, Mr. Brown, and Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Williams would be so proud because what they were hoping to keep – the character of that area – it’s still standing. And it’s one of those scenarios that it’s history and you very much know it’s history.

Florida Historic Marker

One of the projects that we’re working on now is in partnership with the City. We’ve completed the application with the state of Florida to make it a state, to become a historic marker for the state. And the cool thing about it is on the one side of the state marker, it will be the history of Jones High School and on the other aside it will be the history of Callahan. So that is really, really cool. So now with the growth of that area, there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic. And so now, the pedestrian traffic can still see that cultural history of that building. And even with the changes of the area, it’s a positive. Because once again, things will conform to “that area,” quote.

Creative Village

Look at the Creative Village, it’s a neighbor and it’s a nice infusion into the existing past and then moving forward. So it’s one of those things that personally, I’m really proud of that because when I came back it’s like – Wow! Those ladies would be so excited to see that the building is still standing. Still standing.

And it seems like the legacy of the educational traditions of that area are also vibrant… on the Callahan Neighborhood Association website you honor those educational traditions. And when you mentioned Creative Village it seems like the perfect connection.

And it was interesting because when I looked at the website which is:

It gives a history of that area from about 1900 up until we built the Creative Village. And, Callahan is really from Amelia to Central, OBT [Orange Blossom Trail] to Hughey. So in working with the leaders as historian, we got together and we just started sharing stories.

Stories of Family, Church, Education…

And before we knew it, the stories revolved around family, revolved around church, revolved around education. All of our conversations started going into a bucket and then we realized that under education in that Callahan area in itself, there are seven institutions of learning there. Is there any other area in the City of Orlando that has seven distinct institutions of learning? You’ve got downtown UCF. You’ve got Valencia. You got the Orlando Tech. You got FAMU. You had Jones High School. You had Callahan Elementary School. You had Nap Ford. Seven institutions.

100th Anniversary of the Callahan Site

And then recently back in August, in partnership with the City, the City recognized that site, the J.B. Callahan Center Neighborhood site in its 100th Anniversary. So back in August there was a program where that the City put up from a City perspective a wall outdoor marker in addition to, we have the marker and then we have an internal banner as well. So, a hundred years, wow! And then you tie that together, the partnership was just evolving.

Do you think that’s part of the reason why in your life you have been dedicated to lifelong learning? You know, you described the paths that you took, oh, I finished this school and now I’m going… and this is very high level.

And that’s a great point, because sometimes I sit back and I think how did I get to that point? One, I think that family, of course, my siblings. Mom was a disciplinarian so – she was a short, small, petite, but carried a big stick, but those eyes. And so she set out the plan and said that: Education.

“Congratulations! So what are you going to do?”

I recall thinking of that, she said, “There are three things that I’m going to do for you. We’ll keep a roof over your head, food on your table and clothes on your body. And so, growing up I’m thinking, oh, so that’s all we have to do. And then every graduation with my siblings, we come back from graduation and the first thing is, “Congratulations, so what are you going to do?” At 18 years old, you’re like, what are you talking about? You’re not going to stay here for free. And then that pushed all of my siblings to go either to the military or to get education.

School Grants and Fellowships

And then what happens is that pattern picks up and we did the applying for scholarships and that paid our way through school. I’m going like, wow, you mean, I can just learn things and go to school for free? When I went to FAMU it was all on grants and then I got the fellowship in Wisconsin. You know, back in the day, master’s program you went on site. So it wasn’t online. I could have easily gotten that master’s degree in one year, but I was having so much fun, and I stayed there for two years. Because even in Wisconsin, I was in the band there, too. So I was just a big kid just learning. So education is just one of those things that subliminally it was just there. We need to belong and school allowed those role models to teach us how and what to do in part of discipline.

You mentioned churches earlier… what was a typical Sunday like for you growing up?

We were members of Carter Tabernacle CME Church, the original Carter Tabernacle. We moved from Bentley to Cottage Hill in 1976. But church was another arm of a family. And growing up, we all knew what was happening on Sunday. We were going to go to church. So part of that whole development and integrity of learning. You start being around folks, you know, who had dignity, who carried themselves, once again presetting the example. As a kid all five of us, we went to Sunday School. It was almost like a regular school day. We went to Sunday School which was prior to church service. After Sunday School, we would go to Junior Church which was in the basement of the church for the kids. And then we would all march to Senior Church. So church on Sundays went from ten to one.

Church Duties… Easter Reward.

But we had three phases. And so, part of that, you had to be in the choir. You had to do something. But because I played piano, my part about it growing up I was the little kid who Reverend Power allowed me to play the opening hymn of services as a little kid. So it was one of those things that I was engaged in the service as well. We had to, as a reward, we had to perform a speech at Christmas and Easter to get a new church outfit. So that was all part of it.

Mom’s Sacred Service as Stewardess for Communion

Mom was, she was a missionary. She was part of the females in the church that went out and helped the community. Work with the community. You know, give them food and those things. And she was also a stewardess. And the amazing thing about it was that, as I look back, and as a role model, as a stewardess she was really, the stewardess prepared the minister for communion. So on fourth Sunday it was her job to make sure that the communion was all set with the wine and the bread. There was a team of folks. And to make sure that during the time of communion, the pastor with the cleaning of the hands, you know, the rinsing, you know, all of those things. That’s a ritual as a kid by itself because just watching it – because it is sacred. It is really sacred. So the proud thing about it, mom was short, petite, she had that white uniform on, the white hat. She was really serious. And it was so sacred. And I look back and the seriousness of it during that hour on the first Sundays was something that I took away from it that based on her giving back to the community, it was prideful. To see the pastor appreciate the preparation for communion and to then to see her serve. That image will never, ever leave me. And I can recall then growing up, one of my sisters decided to be a stewardess and then I happened to see her with her uniform. It was like, oh, wow, you look just like your mom. So church played a very important part of it. It was fun, too. We had Easter egg hunts. You know we’d go over there in the parsonage in the back yard we’d collect the Easter eggs. And all my siblings went there.

Do you want to tell me about your siblings?


There’s five of us. There’s the older set and the younger set and I’m part of the younger set. My oldest brother Alfonso, he was my idol, because he was at least ten years older. He went off to the Vietnam War and as a little kid to see him in his military uniform, to come back, that was just like – Wow, I want to go into the service – because it was just – the military bearing. We called him Rogers and he played trombone. Because I had so much inspiration around him, I wanted to play trombone. So I played trombone. He passed me his instrument. We didn’t grow up together because he was off in the military.


My next brother, Clarence, he’s retired, he worked with windows for commercial manufacturing here locally. And his claim to fame is that a lot of the high rise here in the City of Orlando, his company are the ones that created the window panes. The average conversation with him is talking about how windows are made. So that’s kind of like, okay.


And then my older sister Jo, she started working with Sprint and she worked her way up to be Director with Sprint. She retired from Sprint and she’s now working in Education Operations with the Orange County School Board. So she’s still kicking at.


And then my younger sister, Nita, who is the baby, who we fight about who is the baby. Nita is also a proud mother of three kids and she is working with Education Operations with Orange County Schools as well. So we all went to school and we’re all working and my mom said at 18, “What are you going to do?” We got out of the house and we made it.

You mentioned your father was a truck driver and your mother was a professional cook and your parents names are?

My dad was Henry Bryant and my mom was Alma Bryant. And I kid with everybody, speaking of mom, a professional cook. We always said, man, if we would have known back then how these famous cooks are making tons of money. Mom could have written a book back then. Because, you know, working for Walgreens Restaurant for 30 years and then it went to Wags which was its offsite full dining area. We were always amazed, mom could go in and come up with a four course meal in 30 minutes. So I was talking to my brother, wow, how did she do that? We kind of put it together. Because she was a cook in a restaurant you had to make food really quickly. And growing up, I do not recall eating out. She was like, I enjoy cooking. And the only time that I ate out was with the band. We would go to McDonald’s. Otherwise, she did all of the cooking and it was probably the best thing. I laugh, at six o’clock, the kitchen closed. You washed the dishes. No one ate after six. And maybe that’s why were all healthy and not overweight. Because when the kitchen closed, we couldn’t go to that kitchen and cook anything. So that was funny.

Are there special recipes that you remember or your favorite food that she cooked?

Oh, Jane, because having older siblings and younger siblings, the younger set knew what not to do to get in trouble. Because we watched the older siblings get scorned at. So with me and my analytical skills I would sit back. And I loved banana pudding, loved banana pudding. So I kind of figured out how can I get you to have your own banana pudding. So mom would come home after a long day at work, you know, standing on her feet all day. “Mom, you look tired. Do you want me to rub your knees?” She would, “Yeah, yeah.” So I would massage her knees. I think I was about twelve years old. So I would massage her knees. The next day, I would have my own bowl of banana pudding compared to the family bowl of banana pudding. So my siblings, “Well, how come he gets his only bowl of banana pudding?” And I recall mom saying, “Leave that boy alone.” But I had to work to get to that point. So she was crazy about banana pudding for me.

And our doctor – so the healthcare providers back in the day was not like the providers now. There were more doctors. They made house visits. I can remember Dr. George P. Shanck his office was on South Street and we would go in for checkups. The way she paid was with her homemade strawberry pies. And watching Dr. Skint (sp) just gush with like oh, we’re going to eat good tonight was just one of those things. And, honestly Jane, if she was here now and she got to meet you. I can hear her saying now that she wanted to cook you a pecan pie. Your own pecan pie.

She sounds extraordinary. And she was also, you mentioned very active in the community. So somehow she found time to be a professional, raise her family, and then also she took an active part in civic life.

Jones High School Football Chaperone

Yeah, and that was what was so interesting because eventually she separated from dad. So she was raising five kids on her own. Going to work every day. And because those kids would span over 15 to 20 years, and we all played in Jones High School Band, she was chaperoning for the football games on Saturdays.

Gardening on Wednesdays

And then she had her own garden in the back. On Wednesdays when she was off she would – we never went to the grocery store – everything came from the garden.

Gene Burns on the Radio

So, I agree, it’s exhausting. She was dependable. When she said she was going to be there, she’s going to be there. She’s sitting there providing service. And it’s usually providing something to eat, bring refreshments or something. But it was exhausting. She would come in, because the kitchen closes at six, she knew now that she could wind down. We weren’t a big television watching family. But at the end of the day she would listen to Gene Burns on the radio. Talk radio and that was her peace. That was her peace. And everybody loved Miss Alma. She would make homecooked chicken on the road to pass out. The house always smelled like cooking. She worked hard.

It sounds like you had a very happy growing up.

Yeah, yeah. I did. I look back and I cherish those moments that when you thought it was difficult, but when you look back and you go like, wow. How did she do it? And she’d be so proud. Because when it was time for us to come back to help take care of her, each one of us came back. And it was a family thing that we were there for her like she was there for us growing up. I get a little teary eyed.

So I was just thinking about your life. So, after school, you would have band practice or music lessons so you were very busy after school. And then when you got home is when you all had dinner together. So there was an order to life.


And then you had time to rest and homework.

Yes. More practice.

And then Sunday was church.


And then in the summer did you take part in activities in your neighborhood?

The good thing about summers was once again, Mr. Wilson had a fantastic band program. So in the summers we were in that band room just like school from eight o’clock in the morning until five, practicing, playing music. Because we had different phases of it. Playing music. So it was a full time job during the summer.

Disney World

So, for me, the only time I had summers was when relatives from the north would come down and wanted to come to Disney World and I had to be the chauffer or the one to show them around. But otherwise, it was all school. But otherwise, it was all school. They kept us busy. We didn’t have that vacation time.


We had relatives in Clewiston. Probably once a year we would go visit her cousins, who raised her after her dad died, in Clewiston. So it was fun to go down to Clewiston which is the sugarcane capital of the world and spend with relatives. But everything was basically here in Orlando.

You know we were talking about your growing up, but in some ways it is a complete parallel of our community because you’re a business analyst now. We’re here in downtown Orlando which is very much a thriving world city now. So you can tell me a little bit about life for you now. Do you feel that this is the right place for you to be as far as a business person?

It is great to come home. As I stated once I finished college I was ready to get as far as possible from Orlando. This transition to see the growth of Orlando. The mindset of Orlando. It’s phenomenal. Because the fun part for me is to be engaged; with all the training I’ve had, how can I help both the City of Orlando to recognize the residents and then also how can I help to show that Historic Callahan was part of the growth and the uniqueness of Orlando.

I can drive around Orlando now and it’s all part of my architectural approach, I’ll drive and just be completely impressed with the Milk District. Drive around and be completely impressed with the College Park Community. Drive around and be completely impressed with SOTO. The growth of all those different entities that make up Orlando now from past. And then the change that’s making it, where that it’s all infusing together to be part of that to help Callahan be part of that historic merge. It’s only a testimony of that hard work to come back home.

And I ‘ve worked with you and the library system to get a lot of the research to help us get to that point of presentation. So that when we do present things to the City, it’s organized and it’s researched and it’s thorough. And so, it lives on its own. And to be part of that interesting growth, it is going to be interesting to see how it looks 20 years from now. Because there were barriers previously that allowed things not to grow because it was all functional.

And now you’re talking about this city is growing and we’re trying to get an identity in ourselves. Because Disney World was a huge part of bringing in everyone. But then now we’re becoming less of a tourist city to a tech city now. Part of what I’m doing now, I was able to come back now and I had no issues of finding work in the technology field.

As a business analyst, I started out in Atlanta, you know. that southern region with Xerox, it was a big company. And we had partnership with Coca Cola and Kimberly Clark. When mom took ill I moved to Jacksonville. So the State of Florida allowed technology for me to do some technical work. And I worked with Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Building on those two, then I had the opportunity to come to Orlando. And here work in Orlando, my technical skills and part of software development and business requirements gathering and implementation, I’ve worked for OUC for their website. I’ve worked for Marriott when they were looking to do a global, customized packet of their hotel reservations.

Currently, I’m supporting from an IT perspective, Orlando Health. So you look, once again I went from hospitality to health to transportation. And before going to working and assisting Orlando Health, I had a second stint with Xerox, because Xerox then was in transportation and they worked with the Sunpass system. So the technology coming back is like all that just gives you the footprint of presentation. You know, this is how we meet. And the goal, what I feel comfortable about now is that we have the skill set and the documentation and presentation to show and preserve the culture of the historic Callahan area. It’s going to take some time, but the good thing about it is that we can get history respected across all those unique entities that we have now that make up this unique, great City Beautiful.

And I applaud you. I heartily applaud you.

I think an example of something brilliant that you contributed to would be the luminaries for the Luminary Green Park that now takes center place in the Creative Village. Would you tell us about that, please?

And that’s interesting because part of the research once again, I look back and prior to Luminary Park, it was the Amway, the O-Arena, so it still was property from a city perspective, right? And prior to the Orena, it was the city fairgrounds. And then, I look back and that whole stretch of that area was considered the city center because that’s where families came to either go to the fair, do those different things. So it was, not thinking of Orlando as extremely huge back then. Then the fact that it was an area that you had the community coming together now. And it wasn’t a black and white. It was just, you know, it was city center. Because then we built the Bob Carr Auditorium. And usually auditoriums are built around city centers where there’s activity. You know, Dr. Phillips is different because now we kind of outgrew the Bob Carr.

So that whole Creative Village piece there and then the Luminary Park was – I applaud the city on the the fact that we need green space. And how can we create green space in a compact city environment. And that, I think, looking at it, it’s going to be the benchmark in years to come because the growth of it. It’s going to allow folks to come and relax. Because we’re building upwards, so the population is definitely growing. Name any other college with a 17 story dorm. 17 stories. So you’ve got that concentration of creativity and brilliancy. And then for the kids and the community, we’ve got three or four apartment complexes, to go and see the leaders of Parramore, their contribution. And those leaders were just commoners. They were not anyone looking for fame. You know, you had entrepreneurs. You had, there was a barber shop owner. There was our first commissioner, first principal…

Recognition of the Community

So for the kids, one of the things I found, too, when I go to these different areas, when I see recognition of the community, if you look around you see that space as being sacred. You don’t see trash, you don’t see anything. I could walk around Lake Eola and I see those dedicated park benches. The uniqueness of it is that it’s sacred. It’s taken care of and so to go out, to be at peace in the Luminary Park, it’s a place, you go back and you go like, oh wow! What was interesting about that person that made them one of these selections? And technology is allowing us now on our cellphones, because the next step for Luminary Park is to have all of the recipients’ bio on its own unique QR code. So on my cellphone, I can go up to Commissioner Daisy Lynum’s statute, search the QR code, and see what she contributed to District 5 which is like technology on top of history. It is just unbelievable, unbelievable so that’s the fun part about it. And, it’s green.

It’s fantastic! So I appreciate you sharing your valuable time with us. Maybe if I can just ask maybe one or two more questions.

One from a business perspective, do you see Orlando as being a place that anyone can come and be a success? Do you see us as offering that whether they grew up in Callahan or whether they’re a newcomer?

That is our strength. And plus, if you look at Orlando, we have the opportunity. And the reason why I say opportunity is that we’re a new city. We can define that next step. So we’re not like tradition, you know like Miami you build around a lot of old structure or like Jacksonville. Orlando now has an opportunity to think outside of that box in the future. And so, then it becomes a hub, that what I like about it is that we’ve got one of the best airports in the state. I tell everybody, you know, at one point we were talking about information technology, 15 years ago information technology basically was data driven by cars. Now were to a point now were transporting things. So we’ve got the airport. We’ve got rail. We’ve gotten land now that can infuse all those different entities and build them together. You make a choice of where you want to live and play, so you know, the live, work, and play concept.

The unique thing about Orlando is, when I left, when I moved to go to Georgia Tech, that was the first big city. And it was a big city in Georgia, but it was the country. And so, you go 20 miles east, west, you’re in the country. And so, when I see Orlando now, if it is done correctly, it could be a model of how to design a city of the future. We start addressing the infrastructure issues. Start addressing traffic to get in and out. Now you’re seeing, we’re going vertical, we got the high rise. Now the whole thing is pulling that together. We got the institutions. University of Central Florida is one of the largest commuter schools in the country. The offerings, just think about it. It came from FTU to University of Central Florida. It started out as a technical school. So we’ve got all of the amenities to create an opportunity for the next level, 20 years.

From your answer it sounds to me like you see Orlando, the future as being bright, as being successful.

Yep. Even with our issues, for me, issues are opportunities. So first thing, we identify it. And then a lot of things happen just because of the moment of how we resolve them. So issues are not negative. It is just part of the inherent process that we need to know how do we improve that process and build upon that. So that, that issue now becomes an opportunity for growth. I think that, when I look at the Callahan area, it wasn’t negative, but through years of decay and things like that, that wasn’t part of the radar. But it wasn’t intentional. But, you look at the growth of Orlando to open up that whole process to bring it into the arms where that you’re infusing Creative Village in with it. You’re infusing Lake Dot. And then those small things being pushed together, you’re no longer isolating areas. You can go in and say, okay, I just feel like going down to SOTO. Going to Delaney. So it’s that infusion that we have a prime opportunity.

And I commend our City leaders. It wasn’t until I went away and came back to understand the challenge to get where we are now. And I look at some of the past, on our website we have attributed to the City leaders, all of the Mayors and all of the previous Commissioners. And you start looking at each individual and the plan. And each one of those individuals planned for the future and a lot of the things that we’re doing now is not necessarily on the spot now. It was something that was previously thought about, but we developed it. And so you can just imagine what the current team is thinking about for the future. So that was just amazing to see what’s coming in 20 or 30 years from now when we’re considered a hub of the south which is central. We’re centrally located.

It’s all breathtaking. You know it can fill you with joy because you want to see that success and the integrity that you spoke about the character of the people who helped build it. We want to make sure that in the future that those stories are told so we continue to sustain those values.

Which make us unique to the state of Florida. You know, everyone wants to come here. It’s good to be small, but we’ve got to be progressive and inclusive. Things are moving so fast. I tell everyone now, you know as I indicated, 15 years ago technology was, we thought the Internet was popping, compared to now, ah man, you got social media, you’ve got all these ways of getting information and data. Can you imagine what that whole world will look like when we even progress further. Because no one would have thought that we would have gotten to this point especially from an information library system where we went from the standard to Internet and now we’ve got data and information coming in every direction. But now we have to be careful about what is actually true information and all that. So you’ve got to think about those safeguards. But only in Orlando, to be part of that ground growing up. To get that niche is to me is probably worth that circle to come back and be dedicated.

And we’re so grateful. We’re so grateful that you are here and the contributions you are making to our community, they’re invaluable. True leadership. So thank you so much for sharing your precious time with us today and for the legacy of community you have contributed to our area, and that you will continue to contribute. Sharing some of the projects that are in the works right now and some of the ideas we are so grateful. So thank you. We’re honored to have you here.

And I thank you for allowing me to share that story, my personal story, and my development. I think that it’s humbling. And I’m very proud just to have that legacy to start that. And my mom would be very humbled and proud as well to see that her love for Callahan, it’s still being carried on. So I appreciated this opportunity and things just happened to work out to get to this point. And like I indicated I’m committed and dedicated to serve.

Interview: Harry Bryant

Interviewer: Jane Tracy

Date: April 4, 2023

Place: Orlando Public Library

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Oral History Interview with Senior Business Analyst Harry Bryant

Oral History Interview with Senior Business Analyst Harry Bryant of the Historic Callahan Neighborhood, a subdivision of Parramore in Orlando, Florida. (1:04:37)

Interview: Harry Bryant

Interviewer: Jane Tracy

Date: April 4, 2023

Place: Orlando Public Library

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Comments to “Oral History Interview with Senior Business Analyst Harry Bryant”

  1. Shirley Bryant says:

    Interesting, how living our history takes on a different perspective looking back. In the African American Communities here in Orlando, and across the United States, we shared/share similar experiences knitted together by faith, family and school.

    • Kim P says:

      Greetings, Ms. Bryant! Thank you for visiting Orlando Memory and for your insightful comments on the post featuring Senior Business Analyst Harry Bryant. We hope you will find other posts of interest on Orlando Memory and continue to share your thoughts with us. THE ORLANDO MEMORY TEAM

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