Built in 1960 – 61 for Jack S. Brayboy, professor and director of athletics, one of Johnson C. Smith University’s most respected and beloved figures. Brayboy Gymnasium, the school’s basketball arena, is named in his honor. His wife Jeanne M. Brayboy, an elementary school music teacher, became one of Charlotte’s most active civic women, serving on many boards.
At Johnson C. Smith University, football has always been a big deal. That goes back to December 27, 1892, when the school (then called Biddle University) played nearby Livingstone College in the first-ever African American intercollegiate football game.
Jack Brayboy must have heard about JSCU when he was growing up in Vineland, New Jersey. In high school he won a spot on the New Jersey all-state football team, as well as lettering in basketball and track. He chose JCSU for college. There he earned a place on the football all-star team of the CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) in each of his four years. In 1942 he led JCSU’s Golden Bulls to the Flower Bowl. Reported The Pittsburgh Courier in advance of the game: “Jack Brayboy, Bull captain and place – kicking artist, is spending every afternoon limbering up his talented toes.”
Brayboy took his academic studies seriously. A triple major in chemistry, mathematics and physical education at JCSU helped him win admission to the graduate program at University of Pennsylvania. He secured an M.A. in Physical Education in 1949 (and would later earn a Ph.D. in Teacher Education from the same institution in 1960).
Returning to JCSU as a teacher, he coached multiple sports and taught in the classroom. By 1960 he was Director of Athletics and in 1965 he became Executive Dean at the University. The University’s 2500-seat basketball arena, opened in 1961, was named Brayboy Gymnasium in his honor. His civic participation included membership in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, in the Jack and Jills of America (a nationwide club that organizes social events for elite African American youth) and Torch Club (an interracial professional men’s club).
Jeanne Martin Brayboy (born 1930) grew up in Camden, South Carolina, about 90 miles south of Charlotte. “Her father, John Wendell Martin, was a high school teacher and football coach; and he started the first African American athletic conference in South Carolina. Her mother, June Singleton Martin, was a librarian,” noted a biographical sketch for the oral history website The History Makers. Jeanne’s parents sent her to private Mather Academy in Camden, then off to Bennett College in Greensboro (Class of 1951), one of the South’s best regarded schools for African American women. She went on to earn a Masters at Boston College in Massachusetts — where she briefly dated a fellow student named Martin Luther King, Jr.
The History Makers website picks up the story:
She graduated from Boston University in 1953, and started her teaching career in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1954, she married the late Dr. Jack Brayboy, who was an administrator at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Brayboy spent forty years as a teacher in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, from 1953 to 1993. While she worked in the segregated Charlotte schools, she witnessed bus boycotts and sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1969, Brayboy became one of the first African American teachers to integrate the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools.
When she retired in 1993, she began as second “career” serving on boards of cultural institutions, including Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Levine Museum of the New South and the Foundation for the Carolinas. She worked quietly and tenaciously to bring together black and white communities in the city.
Jack and Jeanne Brayboy had two children: son Jack Brayboy III (who lives in the neighborhood in 2016) and daughter Joyce Brayboy.
Brick ranch house with a very unusual clap-board sided second-story that projects at the front of the house, creating a two-vehicle carport.
Date issued: November 1, 1960
Owner: Dr. Jack S. Brayboy
Contractor: Hubert S. Whitlock
Estimated cost: $17,000
Other permit info: Build residence
Building permit files, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
First appeared in city directory
1964 – Jack S. Brayboy & Jeanne M.
He: Professor, JCSU. She: No occupation listed.
1982 – Mrs. Jeanne M. Brayboy. Teacher, Oaklawn Elem.
(Jack, student, also lives here)
City directory collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Golden Bull yearbook, 1967, includes an essay on Jack Brayboy’s career.
Jeanne Brayboy, oral history for the website The History Makers: http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/jeanne-brayboy-41
Jeanne Brayboy, oral history by UNC Charlotte student: https://goldmine.uncc.edu/islandora/object/uncc%3A91
Jeanne Brayboy, letter to Martin Luther King, Jr., April 26, 1956, in the King Papers, Stanford University. On-line at: http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/Vol03Scans/228_26-Apr-1956_From%20Jeanne%20Martin%20Brayboy.pdf