In addition to two music stages, the pinnacle of entertainment for the annual Black Family Reunion on Saturday, Aug. 16 will be a first-person dramatic interpretation of the legendary Mary McLeod-Bethune by Momma Kemba, a Chicago actress who is nationally recognized for her portrayals of strong, historic African-American women.
This years reunion theme is The Spirit of Family. The two music stages will offer gospel on one end and rhythm and blues on the otherplus Momma Kembas performance recognizing the original founder of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). The event was created by the NCNW to encourage awareness of the accomplishments of African-American women in history and the future.
The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with a parade from Barbour School, 1608 Clover Ave., along Montague Street, arriving for opening ceremonies at noon at Levings Lake Park (located on S. Pierpont and Johnston avenues). Momma Kemba will participate in the parade, as well as the opening ceremonies.
Festivities continue throughout the afternoon until 6 p.m. featuring food and beverage vendors, vendors of African-American products (jewelry, art, books, etc.), community and social service booths, a Safe House by the Rockford Fire Department, a blood drive by the Northern Illinois Bloodbank, free health screenings by Crusader Clinic and the Winnebago County Health Department and child ID sign ups by the Rockford Police Department. As far as music and arts, the event features story telling by Richard Meeks, poetry by Sabrina Shelby and Brian Jackson, traditional dancing by the NGoma Dance Troupe, and gospel music by Stephanie Goldsmith and several church choirs. The rhythm and blues stage will be manned (and wo-manned) by Harlan Jefferson, Luciana Fleming, Odessa Barmoore, Beth An Bil and London Dillard. Calvin Frasier and London Dillard will also perform some rap.
The goal of the event is to reinforce and celebrate traditional family strengths and values. Admission is free. For more information about the NCNW or the Black Family Reunion, call Reunion Coordinator at 963-7103.
Read more about Momma Kemba in next weeks issue of The Rock River Times.