Keeping African-American Traditions Alive
UPDATED:31 AUGUST 2010
Each summer thousands of African Americans pile into cars, file into trains, hop on planes, travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to be a part of their family. Black families participate in reunions in numbers and percentages and with a consistency to which no other group can make claim. It has the characteristics of a movement as each year, more and more families hold their first reunion.
African-American survival in America is due to the fact that we helped each other, took care of each other and extended ourselves not only to blood relatives, but also to others. The extended family was crucial; Aunts, uncles, grandparents, and unrelated individuals who were considered part of the family were in the neighborhood and gave moral, psychological and financial support. Raising others’ children became a natural phenomenon in African-American life.
However, family structures in America, regardless of race and ethnicity and for a variety of reasons have changed, the role of the extended family has diminished. For African-Americans, this loss has been proportionally greater because family has been such a great tradition and an essential role in survival.
But families are reconnecting, and African-Americans are at the forefront. Reunions often start at funerals. We usually attend funerals even if we've not had contact with the deceased for years. Family members are pleased to socialize with each other, but it is difficult under the circumstances. Families begin to talk about getting together under happier circumstances, and the reunion is born.
The most important aspect of reunions is that it gives the opportunity to strengthen identity. Every family seems to have a colourful background, and it is one that instills pride. The family realizes that there are those in the family who are now carrying out the family heritage and that this should be captured for later generations. Thus, documentation of the activities of present family members is collected.
The love and caring that exists in a family is pervasive at a reunion. People greet each other with a great deal of joy. Even closely knit families have "heartaches and headaches" and the chance to unburden, and reach out to someone else who may need help, offers the opportunity to be given to and to be the giver.
African American family reunions have become a part of the permanent fabric of America's society. This has particular significance because individuals and families control the reunion as an institution. There is no dependence on the government and little dependence on monies outside the family. The participants are willing; the goals are meaningful.
Click on a Family-Date for Remembrances of the Reunion
DILLON Family Reunion - 1980 - New Orleans, LA
DILLON Family Reunion - 1982 - Chicago, IL
McGRUDER Family Reunion - 2000 - Quitman, MS
McGRUDER Family Reunion - 2002 - Clarke County, MS
CHAMBLISS Family Reunion - 2003 - Memphis, TN
CHAMBLISS Family Reunion - 2004 - Memphis, TN
McGRUDER Family Reunion - 2005 - Enterprise, MS
DILLON Family Reunion - 2010 - McComb, MS (Under Construction)
MILLSAP Family Reunion - 2010 - Picayune, MS (Under Construction)
Good Family Reunion Link: www.emory.edu/COLLEGE/MARIAL/pdfs/Vargus022-03.pdf
If you have information and photos of other family reunions, please contact me for inclusion.
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