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Thousands in Kissimmee “Party with a Purpose” at 14th Tom Joyner Family Reunion

This is the 15th year Tom Joyner has hosted the event in Central Florida. Photo: Black America Web.

This is the 15th year Tom Joyner has hosted the event in Central Florida. Photo: Black America Web.

What’s been coined as the nation’s largest black family reunion is wrapping up today in Kissimmee. More than 12,000 families are in town for the 14th annual Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion. The event features live concerts, workshops, and a chance to stand face-to-face with the casts from popular black television shows—old and new—such as the long-time syndicated classic, Good Times, and the new ABC series, black-ish.

Radio host Tom Joyner says his family reunions are informal spaces where black people from across the country can come together to embrace black culture and address critical issues facing the community.

“We’re just your average family reunion on steroids,” he says. “So we eat together, we laugh together, we pray together, we talk, we work things out. We might do a little fighting, but ultimately, it is a party with a purpose.”

Joyner pushes the importance of educating black youth—on and off-air. With excessive force and gun control what he considers the most pressing matters for black Americans, Joyner says he wants young people attending his reunion to learn effective ways build the black community.

“We don’t do anything in this family reunion that we don’t do in our local communities. Black lives matter. Teaching our kids how to deal with police, you know…shut up and live to protest. You can’t really take this away,” he says.

The radio host hopes to grow his gathering next year.

“The family is the nucleus of black culture,” he says. “From slavery where we were split up as a family and then we had to find each other as a family again, until now.”

Out of all the fanfare, he says he looks forward most to hugs, kisses, and selfies.

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About Renata Sago

Renata Sago