The African-American Heritage Trail has dedicated a site to long-time M.V. Regional High School (MVRHS) teacher Quinton Bannister. A plaque honors him at the entrance of the high school.
Quinton Bannister, was the first African-American on the MVRHS faculty. He taught at the high school for 32 years and retired in 2010. Q.B., as he is known among staff and students, taught history and law.
Mr. Bannister moved to the Island from Washington, D.C., when he was 16 years old and attended the high school here. He started teaching history to students in the vocational program, while serving as a Vineyard Haven policeman in the summers.
“He’s been a very welcoming teacher to many kids who wouldn’t have found a welcome anywhere else,” said Elaine Cawley-Weintraub, co-founder of the Heritage Trail and chairman of the history department. “I think it’s been important for many kids of color over the years to have him as a role model. For kids who haven’t find congruence, he’s been a very valuable figure.”
“He’s very well respected and highly regarded,” said Troy Small, a high school senior.
Ms. Weintraub refers to the speech made by Mr. Small at the recent NAACP brunch in which he spoke about the efforts of African-American trailblazers and the unique stresses that they faced. Ms. Weintraub said, “I think 32 years ago I wouldn’t have liked to be the first African-American on the faculty.”
On the plaque honoring Mr. Bannister are two inscriptions. The first, “We make the path by walking,” is a phrase associated with the civil rights movement. Ms. Weintraub finds the quote fitting for someone who in her words, “has put one foot in front of the other.”
The second inscription is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “The time is always right to do what’s right.” Ms. Weintraub explains that Mr. Bannister, who has a poster of the great civil rights leader on his wall, has often told her that on difficult days he looked to Dr. King for inspiration.