Ferguson shooting on the minds of those attending Black Family R - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Ferguson shooting on the minds of those attending Black Family Reunion

Inside the reunion (Photo: FOX19/Gordon Graham) Inside the reunion (Photo: FOX19/Gordon Graham)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Thousands are gathering here in Cincinnati this weekend for the 26th annual Black Family Reunion. However, the event is being influenced by the shooting in Ferguson, Mo.

For the past 26 years the black family reunion has been an opportunity to talk about the things that unite, challenge and strengthen people of color.

Bishop Bobby Hilton with the Word of Deliverance Ministries says the events going on in Ferguson have a familiar ring to the folks here in Cincinnati. "What's going on in Ferguson has reminded us all of where we have come from. Cincinnati was ground-zero in 2001.

Things in Cincinnati have changed over the years, but Black Family Reunion organizer, Tracey Artis says the shooting of Michael Brown has left a mark on this gathering.

"I feel the hearts of the people are heavy because he's gone, heavy because why he's gone, but I do think that there's some sort of energy that comes from it as well because I think people realize that we have to stand together at a time like this."

Former Cincinnati City Councilman, Cecil Thomas, says there were lessons learned from Cincinnati's riots. Lessons that are being shared. "I think the discussion is centered around the importance of family, the importance of making sure that we give good guidance to our young people in particular.

Cassandra Robinson, whose family was voted Family of the Year at the Black Family Reunion kickoff breakfast says "It's like a reminder that we went through it and maybe it had gotten away from us at one point because we have been so satisfied here and so comfortable with where we are today, but this reminded us that it doesn't take much to turn the clock back, but it also lets us know how far we have come."

Cincinnati police chief, Jeffrey Blackwell says there are a lot of communities that are one incident away from civil unrest, but not Cincinnati.

"We are going to demonstrate the right way to police. We're going to engage and collaborate and be transparent and do things right."

There will be plenty of police at the parade Saturday morning and the picnic at Sawyer Point. Saturday is Blackwell's birthday and he'll be Grand Marshall of the parade. He says he's looking forward to a day of community engagement.

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