The Black Family Reunion

By Katrice Stallworth – 9th Grade, Trinity Christian School

For thirteen years the Community Empowerment Association(CEA) has hosted Pittsburgh’s Black Family Reunion as an event designed to bring the broad African American community together in a safe and welcoming atmosphere and without violence. Similar to my family reunion in Kentucky, this year’s Black Family Reunion coordinators planned events for children and adults alike.  Held August 12-14, 2016 in Schenley Park, the reunion included a Youth Summit and the Peace in the Hood Basketball Tournament.  For adults, activities included a Multi-Neighborhood Block Party and a Town Hall discussion.  At each event, CEA collected school supplies to distribute to assist families in the community.

I had the opportunity to attend the “Big Bash” (cookout and concert) on Sunday, August 14, 2016, which is an event that brings hundreds of people together for food, music, dancing and fun for all ages. Even though it rained constantly, vendors sold food (Soul Ice), hand-made clothing with fabrics from South Africa, health and wellness products as well as other things. A vast selection of music was showcased, including reggae, R&B, funk fusion, gospel and jazz fusion.  Artists such as the Flow Band, Pieces of a Dream, Con Funk Shun, and the Spirit-filled Music Ministry performed. While at the reunion, I also enjoyed learning about was the Black Butterflies Incorporation, a group founded by young women to help girls transform themselves through drawing, singing, and dancing as creative outlets designed to help express and address concerns about relationships, verbal and physical abuse, lack of environments for self-expression and negative identity.

According to Community Empowerment Association President and CEO T. Rashad Byrdsong, the 2016 Reunion was designed to focus on discussions with adults and young people around race, power, politics and community with the specific hopes that their awareness of these local and national issues would encourage them to prevent violence, racism and other problems impacting the community. This fits well within the overall CEA mission of promoting camaraderie among Pittsburgh’s African American community. Other CEA service and program areas include  youth development programs, cultural events, counseling services, community action, violence prevention, public help, adult development programs and education. For more information, visit

Katrice is a rising ninth grader at Trinity Christian School. She resides in Penn Hills. Katrice participated in a writing workshop at Luminari; as a reward for competing in an essay competition. She participated in Western Pennsylvania Writing Project the past 3 years, she plays basketball, runs track, and enjoys reading.

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