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The 35th Black Family Reunion will celebrate Black History and focus on the future of the community

Midwest Black Family Reunion

The Black Family Reunion returns to Cincinnati this weekend for its 35th year.

The long-running event's executive director, Tracey Artis, says the annual celebration has been able to outlast similar events in other cities because of a combined effort from businesses, local government and the Black community itself.

"Thirty-five years ago, 26 cities had the Black Family Reunion. We're one of the only original groups left. Rockford, Ill., has a Black Family Reunion and Atlanta is bringing theirs back," Artis said.

This year's theme is "Proud & Powerful" to represent the strength of the Black family in all of its forms.

RELATED: Taste of Cincinnati highlights Findlay Market's BIPOC food entrepreneurs this year

Artis says this theme holds special importance because it inspired the Black Family Reunion's founder, Dorothy Height, to start the event decades ago.

"When Dr. Height started the Black Family Reunion it was because she heard a journalist say the Black family was becoming extinct," Artis said. "She wasn't going to rest until she found that journalist to make sure she shared with him that it may be a grandmother raising her grandchildren, it may be two sisters raising their children. The family unit may look different, but it's still a family."

The four-day celebration will bring back popular events like the annual parade and live performances at Sawyer Point. It will also welcome new activities like a college tour program, which will take high school juniors and seniors to visit and tour four local universities, and get them excited about higher education.

"This idea was birthed because I had a son that graduated this year from high school and (in) talking to a lot of his friends, a lot of them had never visited college campuses," Artis tells WVXU. "I think that happens to a lot of students, right? Sometimes I don't know that you can have a vision for what you've never seen. So I thought to do this college tour would be awesome."

She expects 35 to 40 students to participate, visiting Xavier University, Cincinnati State, the University of Cincinnati and Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science.

Artis says this, along with the return of the Black History tour, will leave attendees inspired and motivated.

"We believe in education. We want — when the weekend is over with — for people to have more knowledge so they'll have more options," Artis told members of the media in May.

RELATED: A forgotten children's book by Langston Hughes and Elmer W. Brown emerges in Cleveland

The Black Family Reunion runs Thursday, Aug. 17 through Sunday, Aug. 20.

Event Schedule

Thursday, August 17
Job Fair
Duke Energy Convention Center
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

BFR Speaks Series
Keynote Speaker: Pastor Jamal Bryant
Corinthian Baptist Church
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Open Seating, Free of Charge

Friday, August 18
Heritage Breakfast
Keynote Speaker: Joe Mallory
Fountain Square
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Historic Tour of Black Cincinnati
Tour will leave at 11 a.m. immediately following the Heritage Breakfast from Fountain Square with transportation provided.
Tour is free & open to the public

BFR College Tour
Tour will depart from Fountain Square at 9:30 a.m. and tour the following schools: University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Cincinnati State, Good Samaritan College of Nursing & Health Science

BFR Lounge Honoring Lincoln Ware
First Financial Bank Community Innovation Center
11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 19
Black Family Reunion Parade
Grand Marshall: Ozie Davis, III
Avondale Town Center
Registration/Staging : 8:00 a.m.
Parade: 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Black Family Reunion & Urban Concert Series
Sawyer Point
Featuring: Kelly Price (main stage opens at 6 p.m.)
Activities: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fireworks at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, August 20
Black Family Reunion & Gospel Concert Series
Sawyer Point
Featuring: Donald Lawrence & Company (main stage opens at 6 p.m.)
Activities: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Updated: August 16, 2023 at 2:11 PM EDT
This story was first published on May 25 and has been updated with additional events and comments.
Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.