by Susan Fried
Dozens of families representing up to four generations gathered for the 51st ROOTS (Relatives of Old Timers) Family Celebration at Jimi Hendrix Park on Sunday, Sept. 3. Although the wind and ominous gray skies were a departure from the stretch of recent sunny days, ROOTS attendees weren’t going to let the clouds ruin their fun. The annual summer gathering brings together Seattle’s original Black families for fun, food, connection, and the renewing of old friendships.
The event included performances by Debbie Cavitt, Josephine Howell, CT Thompson, and Lizzie Sunchine, spoken word by Verbal Oasis, and dance with Toni Bailey and the Throwbacks. The ROOTS Committee honored Clarence Acox Jr. with the Community Award of Excellence and recognized local musical artists Josephine Howell, CT Thompson, Butch Harrison, and Sam Chambliss.
The Breakfast Club, one of the sponsors of the ROOTS Celebration (along with the Northwest Black Pioneers), presented five scholarships to local students.
ROOTS is a beloved tradition in Seattle’s Black community because it brings together old friends and family once a year to reminisce, laugh, and have lots of fun.
Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, and commercial work — plus, she’s been The Skanner News’ Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washington’s The Daily, The Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.
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