Black Meetings and Tourism

Sept/Oct 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 30 of 60

ICI •pg_29-34__BMT_pg3-58 12/21/12 3:45 AM Page 30 BY MICHAEL BENNETT BM&T ANNUAL FAMILY REUNION & FOCUS Group in front of Philly's Mother Bethel Church F amily reunions are a time-honored tradition in the African-American community dating back 150 years. These multi-generational family gatherings are arguably the largest sector of the African-American travel and tourism market. The birth of African-American family reunions can be traced back to Emancipation. Former slaves began the search for distant family members, by placing ads in newspapers or simply asking those who toiled on nearby plantations. For those able to reconnect, the reunions were glorious celebratory affairs. Fifty years later, starting around 1915, the "great migration" of southern Blacks to northern states began culminating around 1940. In total, some four million AfricanAmericans made the trek from the Deep South to Chicago, New York and some western states, in particular California, seeking opportunity and an escape from Jim Crow. This mass migration separated families once again, this time by choice. The result; a tremendous yearning to reconnect, thus launching the burgeoning family reunion business. Today, global economic conditions are accelerating the growth in family reunions, as family members leave the nest to find employment in distant states or even foreign countries. Several studies suggest that somewhere between 75 and 85 million Americans have participated in a family reunion within the last year, and 40 to 45 percent of all trips taken by African-Americans involve some sort of family visit. It is estimated that 90 percent of all family reunions are held by African-Americans. Several conventions and visitors bureaus have seized upon the family reunion business, providing a wealth of information and services to families and meeting planners. Numerous meeting planners and event organizers have sprung up all over the country to handle family reunions. A quick search of the Internet turned up dozens of organizations specializing in the family reunion business. Memorial Day to Labor Day is the height of family reunion activity, with most lastAfrican drummer at Macon cultural festival 30 BM&T ••• September/October 2012 •••

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Black Meetings and Tourism - Sept/Oct 2012