The anticipation of seeing loved ones after several months calls for a long-overdue family reunion. Family reunions are perfect opportunities for all generations to come together, celebrate life’s milestones, and preserve our family heritage and legacy. Reunions are a time for family fun; however, planning one can be a daunting task, so I turned to The Green Book of SC and its new Family Reunion Toolkit. Its website encourages planners to reconnect with family and rediscover heritage by incorporating visits to African American historical sites.
Family reunions are rooted in African-American culture tracing back to the Emancipation era when formerly enslaved people placed “Information Wanted” advertisements in newspapers in search of loved ones separated by slavery. My family has strong roots in South Carolina, so we knew it was the perfect setting to bring everyone together again.
The Green Book of SC is inspired by the original Green Book. First published in 1936 by NY postman Victor Green, the original Green Book was an African American travel guide to safe harbors & welcoming establishments across the United States, printed until the mid-1960s.
Today, The Green Book of SC’s new Family Reunion Toolkit created in collaboration with the WeGOJA Foundation is a digital one-stop-shop for ideas, suggestions, and references to help any planner create an enriching experience for their next gathering. The toolkit offers 5 easy steps for planning with best practices and timelines.
- Choosing a Location
- Establishing a Committee
- Suggestions for the Agenda
- Personalizing your Reunion
- Sharing the Memories
Location, Location, Location
I’ve traveled all over South Carolina, from cities to small towns visiting historical sites, museums, and churches. Still, it was incredibly beneficial to have all the cities with African American heritage sites and historical activities together in one place. The site includes information, images, maps, and directions. It was also nice to find I could search Gullah Geechee sites too. After discussing with the family, we decided to focus on the heritage sites that heralded the African American women in South Carolina and chose the Columbia area.
Making a Plan
The Green Book of SC has suggestions to help planners, including creating a committee for your next get-together. They suggest designating a General Chairperson, Secretary, Finance Chair, and committees for the reception, heritage tour, banquet, and worship. I’m the designated planning leader, so it’s up to me to finalize an itinerary, keep in communication with the family, and stay organized with the support of my husband. It’s important to ensure everyone shares responsibilities for an enjoyable gathering.
Most reunions last about 4 days, but day trips are great for the holidays or busy family members. The toolkit includes day-trip itineraries to Columbia, Charleston, Hilton Head/Beaufort, Greenville, and others with plenty of hidden gems, districts, and markers that interpret compelling stories about African Americans.
In planning a family reunion to Columbia, we discovered several notable African American women from the area along with sites to visit; Harriet Cornwell Tourist House, Modjeska Simkins House, Mann Simons Site, Harriet M. Cornwell Tourist House, and Ruth’s Beauty Parlor
There are many ways to personalize and share your family’s reunion experience, from family-branded shirts to a directory. The Green Book of SC has unique suggestions such as reunion social media accounts, souvenirs, family-specific games, family statements, or songs. Consider your heritage or special memories when you’re preparing for your reunion. Being of Gullah Geechee descent, we will likely incorporate indigo, sweetgrass baskets, and delicious Lowcountry cuisine into our reunion.
If you are looking to plan a reunion be sure to check out The Green Book of SC and its Family Reunion Toolkit. You can also explore The Green Book of SC mobile travel guide to find African American cultural sites across the state.2