As a child, Red Harnage said he could not go to Stamper Park in Longview because of segregation laws.
“We were here before the integration started,” said Harnage, a founder of the Southside Reunion, which is held annually at Stamper Park. “So that’s why we try to keep it going. Our children and grandchildren are falling in behind us.”
Stamper Park is south of downtown and near where Mary C. Womack High School, then the all-black school, was located from 1948 to 1970.
Harnage said the children in the area are benefiting from a better park in the neighborhood and politics in the city.
“(The city of Longview) participates down over here and asks what needs to be done,” he said. “We don’t have a very big problem getting anything done because the city has stepped in, the city of Longview, and we appreciate that.”
The Southside Reunion started in 2001 when Ronald Pierce, who is deceased, wanted to get the community together in that part of Longview when elderly members of the area began to pass away.
Bobby Malone, president of the Southside Reunion, said the event provides fellowship for the three-day weekend starting with a barbecue on Saturday.
Today, a church service is set in the park with hot dogs, hamburgers and links and a fish fry Monday.
Malone said everything is free, except the cost of an event T-shirt, and everyone is welcome.
Rhonda Jackson-Lewis has been attending the reunion since she was a little girl, she said.
“It’s important for the southside community to get together,” she said. “People come here from out of town and reminisce with people they grew up with and went to school with.”
For Regina Colby-Wayne, the event is about history.
“I came out today because I was raised on the southside, and it’s bringing the community back together and our family to celebrate our heritage,” she said. “It’s very important to remember our ancestors and remember where we came from and how we are all a family.”