Quander Family Returns To Roots For 85th Reunion One of the oldest and largest black families in America, the Quanders will celebrate their 85th reunion this year at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Virginia home, where Quanders were once held as slaves.
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Quander Family Returns To Roots For 85th Reunion

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Quander Family Returns To Roots For 85th Reunion

Quander Family Returns To Roots For 85th Reunion

Quander Family Returns To Roots For 85th Reunion

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129005346/129005339" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The Quander Family celebrated their 70th family reunion at the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va. James Ford hide caption

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James Ford

Summer is the season of reunions. It's when generations of families gather to share stories at public parks and private homes -- and the Quanders are no exception.

One of the oldest and largest black families in America, the Quanders will celebrate a part of their 85th reunion this year at Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington, where some of the family's ancestors were once held as slaves.

Rohulamin Quander, president of the Quander Historical Society, is helping to organize the 2010 event. He says the Quanders have traced their family history back to Charles County, Md. in the late 1600s.

"The oral history says the family was brought in, presumably from Ghana," Quander tells NPR's Tony Cox.

According to that oral history, two Quander brothers were separated in Southern Maryland. They never reconnected, but their ancestors did.

The Becker, Landre, Borland and Tenuta families gathered for a week in the woods of Michigan's upper peninsula. Writes listener Gretchen Herrmann, they had "no running water, no electricity, pit toilets and lots of mosquitoes ... And crazy fun." Gretchen Herrmann hide caption

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Gretchen Herrmann

The Becker, Landre, Borland and Tenuta families gathered for a week in the woods of Michigan's upper peninsula. Writes listener Gretchen Herrmann, they had "no running water, no electricity, pit toilets and lots of mosquitoes ... And crazy fun."

Gretchen Herrmann

And now the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has invited all Quanders, including those who don't trace their roots back to the slaves at Mount Vernon, to stage a part of their 85th annual reunion at the historic home.

Quander says his family reunion is a three-day event.

"It begins on Friday with a big fish fry on Quander Road, then Saturday at Mount Vernon, and Sunday at church," he says.

The fact that Friday's fish dinner won't be from the supermarket is a point of family pride. Quander says that instead the meal will be caught by Quander fishermen who will bring their catch up from Southern Virginia.

He expects more than 100 Quanders to attend and all Quanders are invited, even if they don't share the surname.

The important thing, Quander says, is simply getting that time together.

"It's time to pause and reflect as to who we are as a family," Quander says, "to share with the older people, the younger people -- all of us coming together in a relaxed atmosphere to share what's important about family."