‘More than a picnic.’ Black family reunions keep ties — and tradition — strong
Members of the Witherspoon-Strain family, ranging in ages from 1 to 87, pose for a portrait in front of a 72- year-old oak tree at the home of a relative on Creola Road in Lancaster, South Carolina. - Alex Slitz/The Charlotte Observer/TNS

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Inside Fred Witherspoon’s house, the phone rings off the hook. His wife, Renee, starts the car to pick up a relative from the airport as Fred answers call after call from family members. The T-shirts are ordered, the food is prepared and the itinerary is set. Family is coming over — the whole family. It’s been this way almost every July since 1962 — minus one year when they were saving up for a big family reunion cruise. Fred’s grandparents, family patriarch Rev. Willie Witherspoon and matriarch Daisy Strain Witherspoon, started the tradition in their home base of Lancaster,...