The great thing about family reunions is that they can connect the next generation to their past, and that’s particularly true with the Avery Family Reunion on Aug. 28, 2022. The College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture will hold its annual reunion at Burke High School from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday the 28th.

This year’s theme is “Homecoming/My HBCU” and will celebrate the Avery’s connection to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Building on the HBCU pinnacle of homecoming and their longstanding commitment to community uplift through engagement and education, the event will highlight Black culture and cultural institutions.

“In 2021, we offered our first Avery Family Reunion as a way to welcome new and returning students to campus,” says Tamara T. Butler, Avery’s executive director and associate dean of strategic planning and community engagement at the College of Charleston Libraries. “More specifically, we wanted students to meet people and programs across campus and introduce the Avery Research Center as a hub and home for those students.”

Since this year’s event happens during the first week of classes, it is designed to welcome students to their new community and welcome/introduce community members to the Avery Research Center, CofC and HBCUs. The Avery Research Center is located in an historic schoolhouse on Bull Street that was once home to the Avery Normal Institute (and later Avery High School). Although it wasn’t an HBCU, the Avery Normal Institute focused on educating African Americans (and preparing African American educators) from 1865 to 1954.

“The Avery Family Reunion is a nostalgic experience,” says Courtney Hicks, outreach and public programming coordinator at the Avery Research Center. “Community members will be able to feel the warmth, love and positive energy that we enjoy from intimate family reunions while interacting with the Gullah Geechee culture that makes living in Charleston so beautiful.”

Hosted by Charleston-based multimedia personality Kris Kaylin, the 2022 Avery Family Reunion is free and open to the public and will highlight local cuisine, art, artisans and business owners with a particular focus on Gullah Geechee culture. There will be a wide array of food trucks and vendors in the Culinary Village, including local sweetgrass basket makers, health and wellness specialists, and legal service providers. Guests will also enjoy live musical performances of R&B, southern soul, funk and gospel.