Historians Piece Together Pleasant Reed History

Olivia Rhetta and Virta Cherry have sweet memories of their childhood, playing in a house their grandfather built. Olivia Rhetta said "I remember those pecans that used to be in the back, the paper shell pecans. We used to pick up the pecans that would fall, and we had pecan candies".

Virta Cherry said "We used to sit on that porch swing. It was on the north side of the porch, and we would swing and smell that mint".

Their grandfather, Pleasant Reed, died before the ladies were born. But they've heard plenty of stories about him.

Cherry said "He was the first black business man in Biloxi and I didn't learn that until I was nearly 40. I guess I never stop learning about him".

Cherry and Rhetta want more people to learn about Pleasant Reed, a child of slaves who moved to Biloxi to start a new life. So, they're sharing family pictures and memories with historians.

Historian John Hopkins said "It'll introduce to the public who Pleasant Reed was, who the family was, how their lives evolved over time and how the Reed family fit into the broad cloth fabric of Biloxi life".

The stories and photos the historians gather will be used in an exhibit in the Pleasant Reed House. The house is being restored on the future site of the Ohr-O'keefe Museum of Art.

Hopkins said "This is a great opportunity to be able to open that window into the past and be able to incorporate these images into a video tape that we're doing on Pleasant Reed".

Olivia Rhetta said "I think it's wonderful, because now more people can learn more, and not just for black history, but for all times". The Pleasant Reed House will open to the public on May 15.

By: Trang Pham-Bui