Pearl High School grads reuniting this fall

Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 11:45pm

In its glory days, Pearl High School always dreamed big.

So it’s no surprise that supporters of the former educational icon are doing likewise in 2010, as they prep for a mid-August reunion that will see graduates from the classes of 1949 to 1982 together for what should be one of the largest such gatherings in Nashville history.

Millennium Maxwell House Hotel, located in MetroCenter, will accommodate the graduates, with festivities to run Aug. 12 through 15.

Melvin Black, a 1955 Pearl graduate, is helping coordinate the event, to be called The 14th Time Around (14 indicates the number of reunions involving the 1949 class and held throughout the years). It’s expected to draw upwards of 500 grads.

The gathering, which also honors the historic impact of the school that for decades was Nashville’s only high school for black students, drew about 400 graduates two years ago.

“It is important for all of us to keep our heritage alive,” said Black, a retired Metro councilman. “This is something embedded in us. We owe our allegiance to those who made it possible for us to accomplish what we’ve accomplished.”

Black, a former high school teacher-coach and prep-sports referee, said the four-day reunion would require about 50 people for registration, processing printed materials and contacting graduates. Numerous events, including a golf tournament and city tour, are slated.

Pearl High was long at the heart of Nashville’s black community, with nationally known athletics and musical programs. Alumni included medical pioneer Vivien Thomas and Perry Wallace, the first African-American to play basketball in the Southeastern Conference.

Pearl High School ceased operations in the early 1980s, merging with Cohn High School to form Pearl-Cohn High.

The Art Deco building that was long home to Pearl High, the most recognized African-American public school in Nashville history, now accommodates Martin Luther King Academic Magnet School.

For more information about the reunion, visit