Sunday, August 19, 2001

Unity key at Black Family Reunion

Participants keep focus on culture, racial harmony

By Denise Smith Amos
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Peaceful crowds on Cincinnati's riverfront Saturday turned the Midwest Black Family Reunion into an informal testament to nonviolence, family values and racial harmony.

        Several of the estimated 50,000 to 70,000 attendees said they came to support black-owned businesses and to promote positive images and behavior.

        Doing so, attendees say, is especially important given the racial unrest, boycotts and shootings plaguing Cincinnati since April.

        “I'm more aware of diversity at downtown events now. This is calm and helps support the reality that this is how most of us live,” said James L. Johnson, a Cincinnati lawyer.

        Blue Ash native and resident Jennie L. Brown, 32, said she wanted to experience a feeling of unity with other African-Americans. She brought along 10-year-old Brianna Rome, of Hyde Park, to soak up culture.

        Ms. Brown said she was happy to see no protesters who would draw attention to police-community relations strained by the April 7 shooting of an unarmed black man by Cincinnati police. The victim, Timothy Thomas, was running from officers. His shooting sparked the unrest and violence.

        “I was concerned that a lot of us wouldn't show up in protest,” Ms. Brown said. “We need to be protesting in areas where people who need to hear it can. I don't think that's here.”

        Police and fire officials said they encountered no crowd problems.

        “There's a less-tense atmosphere than at other events,” said Cincinnati Fire Division specialist Mike Peterman.

        The annual reunion concludes today.

        Demetrius Davenport Sr., a 33-year-old truck driver and engineer from North College Hill, pulled his three sons through the crowds in a wagon. He said he was overwhelmed by how “happy and polite” people were, even the young people.

Festivity reigns despite rain
Schedule of events

- Unity key at Black Family Reunion
Principals an endangered species
Districts adopt principal-training programs
Diverse women build unity, houses
Faith-based groups are skeptical
PULFER: Are kids collateral damage?
WILKINSON: Independent candidates show unusual strength
BRONSON: Angels in lab coats
Two men seriously injured in shootings
Finding cross is family's quest
Sailors reunited after 56 years
Northwest seeks comments
School leader to step down
City cable rejects political ads
Ohio 63 extension sidelined
Aquatic center gets OK
Campbell residents just want to have fun
Priciest homes
Africa-born mayor hits streets
Cyclist celebrates Hoosier byways
Local Digest
Shipwreck preservation urged