Edward Bryant Rollins Jr., 84, died May 27, 2022 in Jacksonville from Stage IV esophageal cancer and Stage 4 AL cardiomyopathy, surrounded by his loved ones.
He was born and raised in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston in 1937, the son of Edith Wade Rollins and Edward Bryant Rollins Sr.
A graduate of Boston English High School and Northeastern University, Bryant became an accomplished journalist, working at the Boston Globe and The New York Times. He founded The Bay State Banner, a black newspaper that enabled him to both cover and participate in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He later edited The New York Amsterdam News, one of the leading black newspapers in the country. From that position, he was fired after refusing to bow to editorial pressure urging him to provide more favorable coverage for the New York mayor.
Bryant became deeply involved in the civil rights movement in Boston, New York, and Mississippi where he helped organize a tenant-owned cooperative.
Bryant has published two novels, co-wrote artist Cab Calloway’s autobiography, and co-wrote an award-winning off-Broadway play. He has also worked with the Ford Foundation, administering a program for minority journalists at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Bryant left journalism to start a consulting firm focused on diversity and equity training for large corporations, colleges, government agencies and nonprofits. Working with his wife, Shirley, Bryant has spent more than 40 years helping organizations break down barriers of race, gender, religion, age, and other human and cultural differences.
In Jacksonville, the groundbreaking work of Bryant and Shirley transformed community conversations. They led an initiative in the 1990s to organize study circle conversations about race across the city. They facilitated the Truth and Reconciliation Community at St. John’s Cathedral, which brought Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Jacksonville. Even after their retirement, they continued their work with organizations throughout the community.
He has served on several boards including Jax Chamber, the Jacksonville Civic Council and JCCI. He was among the first blacks admitted to the Civic Council’s predecessor, the Non-Group.
Before he died, he completed a forthcoming memoir, The Slave in My Mirror. The family is asking, in lieu of flowers, for donations to support the publication of this book at https://bit.ly/bryantrollins.
He was predeceased by both his parents and his eldest son, Khari Rollins. He is survived by Shirley Stetson, his wife of 27 years; his daughter, Malikkah Rollins; his son, Salim (Fatma) Rollins; daughter-in-law, Kaitlin (Abraham) Schroeder; stepson, Stephen (Lisa) Kessler; his grandchildren, Miles Rollins-Waterman, Azza Rollins, Asad Rollins, Mackenzie Kessler, Colby Kessler, Nathaniel Schroeder, Elodie Schroeder; his sister, Judith Rollins; and his cousins, Henry Johnson, Alyce Johnson, Linda Hunt, Alex Hunt, Phyliis Garror, Robin Johnson, Victoria McGhee and Michael Thomas.
Family and friends will celebrate Bryant’s life at St. John’s Cathedral on Saturday, June 25 at 11 a.m. The service will be streamed live on the cathedral’s website.
Posted on June 19, 2022
Published in Florida Times Union
celebration of life
St. John’s Cathedral 256 E Church St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
June 25, 2022 at 11:00