|Photo Credit: Jo'elle Lacoste|
The Vernon family held their 2016 family reunion in Tangipahoa Parish this past weekend. This year's theme "The Legacy Will Never End." They're the descendant of a former slave named Robert "Free Bob" Vernon, whom purchased his own freedom and the freedom of two of his children. Free Bob was the father of seventeen children. He was married four times: Nellie Thompson, Martha Ann Morris, Catherine and Mamie last names are not known. His mother was named Hariett Booker and they called her "Grandma Booker."
My keynote address was "Maintaining the Legacy" of Free Bob. Maintaining the legacy of wealth, educations, economics, employment our history and our future is what every family should be discussing. Every family reunion needs to educate their family members about the legacy left to them by their ancestors. What are the family heirs of, how do we maintain our inheritance is the big question that every family sure have the answers too.
He donated land to build the first African American School and church in Arcola, Louisiana. There is a community named Vernon Town. Bob purchased twenty-three acres of land, each time one of his children got married, he would give them a hundred acres as a gift to get them started.
If the Vernon family would've incorporated their town, they would have been the Rosewood and Tulsa of Tangipahoa Parish. They would've had their own infrastructure with their own elected officials, police department, banks, stores and schools. Free Bob laid down the foundation for this kind of freedom. He knew what the shackles of slavery sound like and he knew the sound of the freedom bell.
I took a census of all the educators in the room last night because Free Bob couldn't read or write, but he kept a lot of books around him and he donated land to build a school for African American children in the community. About fifteen Vernon educators raised their hands. Enough educators to start their own school again.
When Fairy Hannaibal starting sharing the Vernon history with the children they all gathered around
|Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell|
After the tasty dinner of smoke chicken, potatoes Au-gratin, seasoned green beans, toss salad and rolls and delicious homemade peach cobbler and warmed bread pudding with vanilla sauce, everyone turned their attention to the photograph slideshow presented by Madelyn Walker Collins. I enjoyed looking at the old photographs of the Vernon family. Someone really preserved the family photographs. Everyone was so happy to see their loved ones. For those that has passed on, seeing the pictures really brought back fond memories.
The host for the evening was none other than Glyniss Vernon Gordon, the daughter of the late Dr. Willard Vernon and Mrs. Alma Harrison Vernon. Many door prizes was given away to the family. Gwendolyn Vernon recognized the family member who traveled the fastest, family members with the most children. The oldest and youngest family member was recognized.
|The Vernon Family History Book|
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell