Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Family Reunion

In the early nineteen seventies, a young lady had a dream, or more appropriately, it might be called a vision, which then became a plan. Sadly, the family lost the dreamer and visionary at the early age of thirty-six. She was a beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend and so much more to so many. Yet the dream, the vision and the plan proved to be the foundation of what to this point has become 36 consecutive years of family reunions. In 1974, while still immersed in the shock and grief of the untimely passing of Synnia Solomon, the Ford-Bryson Chapter was formed in Cleveland, Ohio. It was there that the first family reunion was successfully planned and executed. Words of reflection and challenge from the family web site at summarize from where we came and where we are today.

The Dreamer had a VISION of a FamilyUnited in faith and joined in love.And the Dreamer began the foundation,but before the 1st Reunion she responded to an even Higher Calling.In 1974 The Dream lived on with the formationof the FORD-BRYSON Reunion.TODAY The DREAM LIVES ON because others believed in the Dream and The Dreamer.When today is viewed in a historical perspective, let it be said that THE DREAM CONTINUED BECAUSE OF YOU!

Visiting the web site offers even more of what is possible with family. In late July of this year, family members and friends traveled from all areas of the country to help celebrate the thirty-sixth annual reunion. The event, hosted by the Florida Chapter, took place in beautiful Sarasota on Florida’s picturesque Western Gulf Coast.

I’ve been blessed to attend all thirty-six reunions, and you would think by now I would be either bored, or not surprised, or both. The truth is that there is always something new, something inspiring, something earth-shaking in the experience of so many family and friends coming together to celebrate. From the silky soft sand of Siesta Key Beach, to the rap version of the Family History shared by my sister Jean, her husband Emmanuel, and several young family members, there were new ways to celebrate life and appreciate each other.

This year, several weeks before the reunion we were treated to the good news that our family had suddenly grown due to the locating of a new “branch.” Barbara Williams, a member of the founding chapter, using intuition and the marvels of technology, connected with a descendant of Peter Brison (or Bryson). When the reunion was started in 1974, the whereabouts of Peter were a mystery to the founding members, and therefore we had no contact with his descendants. That all changed due to Barbara’s efforts, and not only was contact made, but two descendants of Peter scrambled to make last minute plans to attend the reunion.

As you might imagine, Ruth Jones and Sharon Simpson were welcomed with open arms, and they certainly showed the love in return. We are anxiously looking forward to learning more about their past reunions and meeting more of our family. Our thanks to Tracie Brison who helped connect Barbara to Ruth and Sharon.

Tracie, Joan and Sharon have in a way been responsible for our family’s recent spike in the empowering field of genealogy. Considering how much work and time can be invested in the study of genealogy, I have avoided becoming involved in that area. My sister Jean recently sent me a copy of a 1930 Census Report listing our father along with his parents, siblings, and Hansie Solomon, our oldest living relative and a former slave.

The mental picture that was created from the thought of how close I came to slavery kept me awake most of that night, and has impacted my thoughts since then. The thoughts that emanate from that vision are frightening, but also potentially empowering. The empowerment is in the strength and resolve of our people and in the goodness of God.

Another notable trend in our reunion as we become visible to the on-line world, including our presence on FACEBOOK, is that we have begun to touch people worldwide. Thanks to the ability to track the geographical location of our web site visitors, we have noted people spending time viewing our web site in such diverse places as Canada, China, India, South Africa, and even from Ummul Qura University in Saudi Arabia. This assures me that in addition to positively impacting family, friends and visitors from the United States, we have become a model of sorts for people around the world. This is quite an accomplishment from a people that less than one-hundred and fifty years ago were enslaved.
Even as we celebrated, our thoughts and prayers included those who were unable to join us because of the economy, illness, or even those who have passed on. Our thoughts were with family members who could not be with us because of being involved in efforts to help others. Such was the case of Angela Walker who tragically lost her son Joshua Broomfield to senseless gang violence during the past year. In the midst of her pain and suffering, she chose to participate in a Survivors Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, designed as part therapy and also to discover ways of turning some of life’s tragic moments into opportunities for self-help and helping others.

The oldest family members attending the reunion were acknowledged. With homes in Cleveland and Detroit respectively, Charlie “C.W.” Ford and Willie Ann Huff demonstrated that distance traveled would not keep them from the festivities.

Before the close of our celebration, we were assured that the dream would indeed continue, with the family reunion being hosted by the Detroit Chapter in 2010, and the California Chapter in 2011. Our founder, Synnia Solomon, and all those whose memories we cherish, must be looking down from their Heavenly Home with pride at what has occurred and what is planned for the future. The continuation of the work they began is proof that their efforts are appreciated, that the goals they sought were reasonable, that the challenge is worth it, that the dream lives on, and that there is no limit to what is possible.

Visit our web site at and experience what has been recorded for the enjoyment, the education, and the hope for this and future generations.

1 comment:

  1. Henry,
    Thank you for capturing the essence of the 36th Annual Hansie Solomon Reunion. Our goal was to make sure everyone had a great time! By the looks on people's faces in the pictures, I think you got a snapshot of the 140 people who attended, and everyone appeared to be really enjoying themselves. Thanks again for being the messenger and communicator in support of our being able to continue with Synnia's Vision.
    Luv ya,
    Jo Ann