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Boston While Black’s Family Reunion is a multigenerational gathering for all

Mandile Mpofu
Boston While Black’s Family Reunion is a multigenerational gathering for all
Double Dutch at a past Boston While Black Family Reunion. PHOTO: Boston While Black

For many African Americans, family reunions are longstanding traditions.

Inspired by the sense of togetherness these customary gatherings offer, Sheena Collier, founder and CEO of Boston While Black, a membership organization serving young, Black professionals, created a similar event where celebrating family in all its iterations is the key.

In its fourth year, Boston While Black’s annual Family Reunion will bring live music, games and food to the Seaport on July 20 for a fun-filled day with meaningful roots.

Collier said she wanted to celebrate Black culture and honor the tradition of family reunions that was an important part of her own heritage.

“Black family reunions began as a way to reconnect after slavery tore families apart. They celebrate resilience, preserve cultural traditions and build a strong sense of community. These gatherings carry a rich history and remain a powerful way for Black families to connect and thrive,” said Collier.

The Family Reunion leans into the customs of African American culture and celebrates the vitality of the community, a spokesperson for Boston While Black said. The organization has become a “de facto family” for many people, and the purpose of the Family Reunion is to honor that.

The theme for this year’s gathering is “Back in the Day,” which is meant to celebrate the feeling of nostalgia of the 1980s and 1990s. The programming is a mix of crowd favorites and added elements.

Boston While Black’s Family Reunion brings a fun-filled day to the Lawn on D while honoring a tradition in African American culture. PHOTO: Boston While Black

To bring the theme to life, the event will include activities that reanimate the past, including roller skating. provided in partnership with Black-owned business Chez Vous, and Double Dutch. Attendees will also be able to participate in face-painting, succulent-making, hair-braiding tutorials, a bubble zone and dancing, all while enjoying live music from the DJ on site.

Central to the Family Reunion is serving a multigenerational audience — much like the traditional family reunions — with inclusive programming that celebrates all Black experiences.

As with Boston While Black’s past Family Reunions, this year’s will be held on the Lawn on D in the Seaport, a location purposefully selected to welcome Black people into parts of the city where they may not have felt they belonged.

“We utilize events like the Reunion to break down barriers that enable Black Bostonians to be tourists in their own city,” Collier said. “The Seaport — a rebranded part of South Boston — carries a lot of history of not being somewhere Black people could congregate. Now we have seen where every year at [the Family] Reunion, Black people from across the Commonwealth, as well as visitors, are enjoying this space.”

Since its creation in 2021, the Family Reunion has become a highly anticipated fixture in the community. Last year, the event attracted nearly 8,000 people, more than double the attendance of the first year, Collier said.

“One of the things that I love is it has become an expectation for it to happen,” she said. “People reach out throughout the year asking about the next date.”

The event is funded entirely through sponsorships and partnerships, including one with the city of Boston, which allows for free attendance.

Ahead of Boston While Black’s fifth anniversary next year, also the Family Reunion’s fifth year, Collier said the event needs more room to expand.

“There are so many elements we have wanted to add, but we are outgrowing the space,” Collier said. “In the future, we want to stay at the Lawn on D while activating other parts of the Seaport throughout the weekend.”

boston while black, family reunion, Seaport

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