I come from a big family. My father was one of 14 children, and my mother was one of
17, so when I attend a family reunion, I expect it to be a huge affair! My first recollection of our reunions was one held at Forest Hills Park, a historic 235- acre park shared by East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights. I may have been no more than four years old, but the vastness of the park was unforgettable. With an inner-city address, the park is like a country oasis, with tennis courts, a pond and a nature trail.
One year, my family met at Cedar Point in Sandusky. Cedar Point is known for the tallest, fastest and most thrilling roller coasters in the world, and my family is fearless; we wait for the front seats every time! And despite the fact that we had packed food to eat in the pavilion, we emptied out our pockets at all the concession stands, and still made room for my Aunt LaRue’s famous pound cake!
The formula for family reunions is usually the same no matter where it’s held: Friday is a meet-and-greet at a hotel, Saturday we have the picnic at the park with games, raffles, a cook-out and the family portrait, and on Sunday we drag ourselves out of bed to attend early morning church service, before a quick brunch and our goodbyes.
Nobody does a family reunion like the 23rd Annual Midwest Black Family Reunion in Cincinnati. Since 1989 they’ve been hosting the outdoor event with live music, great eats and vendors that sell everything from jewelry to art. The first time I went it was during the height of the Malcolm X movie promotions. I remember getting some “X” earrings and a pair of earrings shaped like Africa. I was so culturally conscience!
But that was a long time ago. Since then, the event has only gotten bigger and better. This year, August 19-21, there will be vendors, a parade, concerts from musical legends, the SOS Band and Gospel artist Warren Sapp, and activities for people of all ages.
The Midwest Black Family Reunion serves as inspiration to how all family reunions should go, people from all over coming together in unity and pride, representing their heritage, roots and ancestry and recognizing that we all don’t have to be born through the same bloodline to be family.