CRANBERRY ISLES — Islesford resident Ashley Bryan, acclaimed illustrator, poet, puppeteer, storyteller and scholar of African-American folklore, received the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire Citizen of the Year Award at the annual Black New England Conference last Friday at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
In announcing the award, the Black Heritage Trail noted that, at 95, “Bryan continues to publish illustrated books in which he attempts to bring to life African tales and proverbs and the spirituals of enslaved African-Americans.”
A highlight of the award ceremony was a video tribute to Bryan created by the students and teachers at Ashley Bryan School on Islesford.
Kariah Sumner, one of the students whose comments are featured in the video, described Bryan as “a loving, caring man who thinks of others all the time.”
“He is an amazing, awesome artist and reader who can create anything he sets his mind to. He is a great role model.”
Another student, Jessica Sanborn, said she wouldn’t want to live in a community without Ashley Bryan: “It would be too quiet without his warm, booming voice echoing throughout the trees, the buildings and the sea.
“Ashley is one of the nicest people I have ever met,” she continued, “coming to our school to read to us his newest works or even inviting us into his home to show us his workshop and to share his creations with us.
“The islands are a better place to be with Ashley down the street.”
The video is posted to the school’s website, cranberryschools.org.