This Sacred Tradition Is A Key To Building Joyful Black Families

Laughing with your favorite cousin. Big Mama’s sweet potato pie. Filling up a plate to take home. For many of us, being around family - whether kin or chosen - is sacred to Black people. So how can we create more opportunities to experience this joy together?

This Sacred Tradition Is A Key To Building Joyful Black Families
Via Wikimedia Commons

Family reunions have a long history of reuniting and keeping Black American families together – from emancipation, through the Great Migration, until today. 

But don’t get it twisted! Black family reunions are about much more than Auntie’s potato salad and doing line dances. 

Enslavement intentionally tore apart Black families, and it was nearly impossible to stay connected. It was common for formerly enslaved people to put out ads in Black newspapers searching for their kinfolk. After emancipation, Black families that had been separated needed a way to gather together again. 

And when we did, we experienced joy. 

In one corner, kids are running and playing games. In another, an elder is telling a family story.  The electric slide and a game of spades are popping off. 

Family reunions are a sacred, loving space filled with education, enjoyment, storytelling, an imparting of the family’s values, and even political organizing. They sustain our spirits and fill our hearts with joy.

And even after surviving the pandemic and financial constraints, our family reunions are still happening. This is a ritual and tradition that we must continue, because it continues to sustain us and our spirits, come what may.

Black families deserve to pass on our stories and traditions, exist together in affirming spaces, and grow together. Family reunions can help build the strong Black families we need to keep our culture intact and fight for liberation. What’s your favorite part of fellowshipping with family?

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