Over the years, I have received many requests to attend, and then write about somebody’s family reunion. While I believe in family reunions, there is no way I could attend and write about them all.
Once in a while, I make an exception. Last Sunday was such a time, when I attended the 50th Robinson/Dixon/Hodge/Grimes Family Reunion Picnic that was held at the Historic Virginia Key Beach and Park. I had been invited by Gwen Dixon, a part of the Miami Committee, nearly a year ago.
Diving to Virginia Key Beach brought back lots of fond memories for me. I remember going there as a young child, when the only access to the beach was by motor boat that cost 25 cents for children and 50 cents for adults. That was in the late 1940s before the Rickenbacker Causeway was built.
Sunday’s weather was picture perfect for a picnic. Children ran and splashed in the surf as adults watched, and the older folk sat around talking and getting reacquainted. Nearly 225 family members from throughout the country attended the reunion. All family members, including children, wore white T-shirts with the letters RDHG Family Reunion written across the front in big blue letters.
Gwen Dixon and I found each other in the crowd. She introduced me to Janet Maitland, chairwoman of the Miami Committee, who later introduced me to Vivian Robinson of Stone Mountain, who for 25 years, has served as the reunion’s hostess. Sunday, amid the sounds of happy children and the laughter and conversations of the adults, Vivian gave me a brief history of the RDHG Family Reunion, which was first held the third weekend in July 1968 in Dawson, Georgia.
“I was 13, when the reunion - a family picnic -it was held under a big oak tree, and everyone brought a covered dish, while the men cooked BBQ over an open pit,” Vivian said. She was 24 when she and her siblings hosted the reunion in Georgia in 1979, and about 100 family members showed up.
“The reunions came about because it seemed that, like many other families, we only got together at funerals and other sad occasions. At one such gathering, Maudie Robinson-Strange and Ora Lee Robinson decided that we should come together as a family at least once a year just to have fun and fellowship. It was because of the courage, strength and fortitude of these two women, that we are here today.”
The family reunions are held each year in one of five host cities, and are usually three- to four-day events that begin with a family and friends meet-and-greet, usually at a local restaurant. This year, the events included dinner theater on Friday at the Overtown Performing Arts Center, a “free” day on Saturday, when some members attended the Overtown Arts Festival, and church on Sunday morning. The reunion picnic at Virginia Key was the last event, before family members started the trek back home.
Family members in each host city form a committee and start planning for the next reunion before the current one ends. Vivian said it takes 12 months to plan each reunion. By the last day of the reunion, it is announced where the next one will be. “Our 2019 reunion will be in Orlando,” Vivian said. In 2020, the reunion will be in Washington.
“You know, it’s important to teach our young people our heritage and teach them to stay in relationship with family,” Vivian said. “At our reunions, we try to teach our children the importance of staying in touch, to love each other, even in the midst of bad times. |We teach the young people that it is OK to disagree. But if we love each other, the love will cause us to keep moving through our disagreements; it keeps us going forward.”
Our conversation was interrupted with the calypso sounds of the Bahamian Junkanoo Band, which snaked its way through the crowd, children and adults dancing and laughing as they followed. Seems that even people who were just sitting and watching found strength amid the drums and the cow bells. Soon, some of them were gyrating to the sounds in the calypso line behind the band. There’s just something about that island music.
I found a chair next to Uncle Junior (Levi Robinson, Sr.), a resident of Miami and, who at 93, was the oldest family member at the reunion. Opal Padgett, 1, was the youngest. Uncle Junior, leaning at times on his walking cane, said he is proud of the fact that the founders were his sister Maudie and his aunt Ora Lee.
His eyes sparkled as he watched the children at play. “This is a great thing,” he said. “It keeps the family together, and it’s a joyful thing to get together and just enjoy each other.”
With election coming up in a few months, you can look for forums to meet the candidates.
At 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7, the Rev. Michael K. Bouie and the congregation at Mt. Hermon A.M.E. Church, 1800 NW 25th Ave. in Miami Gardens, invites the community to a Candidates Forum.
Those invited will include gubernatorial candidates, and candidates for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and candidates in the city of Miami Gardens and city of Opa-locka.
Radio personality Rodney Baltimore of Hot 105 FM Radio Station will moderate the forum, which is being held in partnership with Mt. Hermon, the NAACP — Miami Dade Branch; the League of Women Voters; PACT/Mt. Hermon, and Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church.
For more information, call Sara J. Carson, chairwoman, social justice and political action committee at 305-621-5067.
Universal Truth Center for Better Living will have a Fifth Sunday Performance, featuring a special mystery guest to perform before and after the worship celebration. The mystery guest will be announced on the day of the performance.
Also, the church at 21310 NW 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens will have Friends and Family Day on the fifth Sunday (July 29). Members are asked to wear their favorite UTC T-shirt and invite someone to the service. The Rev. Charles Taylor is the pastor.
Trinity Cathedral concert
The final concert in the “Three Sundays in July” concert series at Trinity Cathedral will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at the Cathedral., 464 NE 16th St, Miami. The title of the concert is “Classicos Tradicionales Cubanos.”
Also happening today at the cathedral: the Cathedral Forum will feature the biblical character Peter at the New Testament teaching. On July 29, the forum will feature John and James, the sons of Zebedee, and on Aug. 5, the forum will feature the biblical characters Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
The forum is held following the morning worship from 11:20 a.m. to noon and is based on the video lecture by Professor Amy-Jill Levin of Vanderbilt University.
Migrant children help
Carmen Morris, the administrative assistant to Commissioner Xavier Suarez, called to let me know the commissioner is working to find a solution to the problem of gaining access to the migrant children who need our love. Already, many of you have emailed me, expressing your interest in joining me in this quest. I have all your email addresses and I will keep you posted. Thank you for caring.