|by JD Rinne||Washington, D.C.||15|
About 400,000 people are expected to attend the Black Family Reunion Celebration on the National Mall in D.C. this weekend.
The event kicks off with the outdoor ecumenical prayer breakfast at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, with keynote speaker Bishop Eddie Long from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons you can check out booths full of exhibits, plus areas for health screenings, educational opportunities, and food vendors selling authentic African American dishes. After 5 p.m. each night, there will be knockout shows. On Saturday, American Idol winner Fantasia and R&B; singer Tank perform. On Sunday, Smokie Norful will headline a gospel concert.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this summer that there are about 200,000 family reunions a year, and African Americans are a huge segment of that market (44 percent of all leisure trips taken by African Americans are to visit family). There's been a growing interest in family reunions since the '70s.
This will be the 23rd year that the National Council of Negro Women has organized the event.
National Mall at 7th Street, between Madison and Jefferson drives. Festival is free; breakfast tickets are $40. Call 202/383-9109 for details.