Annual Black Family Celebration returns to Dowagiac

Published 4:00 pm Monday, September 4, 2023

DOWAGIAC — Walter Ward Park was the place to be Saturday as the annual Black Family Celebration returned to the community.

The event featured food and entertainment at no cost to the community. The event’s purpose has been to promote and unify the African American community in Dowagiac since 1991.

“I’m just thankful to have turned out as well as it did,” said event organizer Tyree Blackamore. “We had a beautiful day, it’s the 21st year. We’re just thankful it turned out good. Everybody’s having fun. We were able to pull it off another year.”

According to Blackamore, the goal of the Black Family Celebration was to point out issues that plague the community while offering solutions without coming across as preaching. Families from Dowagiac and beyond attended the event.

“We’ve had a wonderful turnout and it takes a lot of work,” said Dowagiac City Councilwoman Danielle Lucas. “It goes to show the investment people are willing to make in the community and how important this is. It’s very important that we continue this especially for the little ones. It’s celebration time; people come in from out of town that we haven’t seen all year. We get to reminisce and have a good time together and enjoy one another.”

The highlight of the celebration was the annual basketball tournament, which was renamed the Small World Basketball Tournament in honor of Paul Williams III, who passed away last fall. In 2013, Williams III brought the Black Family Celebration back from an eight-year hiatus.

“It was a great day,” said Dowagiac Union High School Coach Danum Hunt, who helped organize the event’s basketball tournament, “The weather turned out perfect… It’s great with kids returning to school to have one big last summer gathering. It does a lot for the community. One of the things that attracted me to Dowagiac was it’s one big, happy family atmosphere. This is just the crystallization of the summer for us when we have the event here.”