- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2002

The rhythm of celebration echoed across the Mall yesterday as the 16th annual Black Family Reunion drew to a close at the base of the Washington Monument.
The two-day event, sponsored by the National Council of Negro Women and the National Park Service, attracted thousands of participants with dancing, singing, shopping and dining.
"You never know what to expect here," said D.C. resident Christiane Wellons, who came to the festival yesterday afternoon with her sister, mother and nephew.
"We always mark it on our calendar every year it's always the weekend after Labor Day," she said.
The Wellonses said they planned to browse the dozens of food stands along 15th Street NW, which was closed to traffic for most of yesterday, then visit the craft stands and several stages where singers and dancers were entertaining under tents.
Among the several entertainment tents were stands featuring literature about education, health awarness and black history dotting the carnivallike Washington Monument grounds.
"It's educational to find out about well-known black people who paved the way before our time," said Alexandria resident Diane Satter, who spent the afternoon combing through pamphlets and exhibits about prominent black figures in history, and slavery.
At one booth, she had stumbled across her friend's family name Syphax.
"I can't wait to get back and tell her," said Ms. Satter, who found out that the Syphax family was given 17 acres of land in the District after slavery was abolished. "It's such an unusual name."
Ms. Satter, along with her friend Rachel Butler of Lorton, also signed a petition to publish a stamp of Maggie Walker, the first black female bank president in the United States.
Ms. Satter and Ms. Butler had not seen each other for three years.
"Not only is this a reunion for the African-American community, it's a reunion for us," said Ms. Butler, who was lounging with a group under the family picnic area tent.
Dorothy I. Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women, created the Black Family Reunion in 1986 to promote the positive values of black life and of traditions developed in Africa.
First held in the District, the event now includes other major cities such as Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Cincinnati.
"Is everyone enjoying themselves?" Kitty Chainey, a speaker for the National Council of Negro Women, asked an applauding audience under the event's main tent. "Because that's what this is all about. We just want to you enjoy yourselves."

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