Photos: ROOTS picnic shines light on black Seattle’s living history

Pastor Patrinell Wright laughs with Blues singer Johnnie Moore, right, after Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir performed at the ROOTS picnic. (Photo by Susan Fried)
Pastor Patrinell Wright laughs with Blues singer Johnnie Moore, right, after Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir performed at the ROOTS picnic. (Photo by Susan Fried)

The sun always seems to shine on the ROOTS Picnic. And last Sunday was no exception, when the 44th Annual event was held at Sam Smith Park next to the Northwest African American Museum.

Black families from the Seattle area and around Washington state have been gathering at an annual summer picnic since the early 70’s, when a group of friends lead by Arline and Letcher Yarbough decided it might be nice to establish a regular reunion. They formally named it Relatives of Old Timers of Seattle (R.O.O.T.S. for short)

This year’s event was highlighted by a tribute to Ernestine Anderson, the Seattle Jazz legend who passed away in March of this year. Grace Holden, 86, herself a renowned jazz vocalist, narrated the life of Ernestine while talented singers Darelle Holden, “Lady A” Anita White and Josephine Howell honored Ms. Anderson with beautiful renditions of some of the songs she loved the most.

At the end of a long day of eating barbecue, enjoying amazing entertainment and most of all, visiting and reminiscing with old friends and family, the several hundred attendees packed up their belongs and headed for their cars, already looking forward to next years picnic. Big things are planned for the 45th Anniversary and everyone is invited.

Capt. Ron stands by his classic muscle car, a 1973 Ford F100, part of the Old Riders car collection on display during the R.O.O.T.S. Picnic.
Capt. Ron stands by his classic muscle car, a 1973 Ford F100, part of the Old Riders car collection on display during the R.O.O.T.S. Picnic.
Hazel Stroy, 89, whose family has been in Seattle since 1901, was the oldest woman at the picnic.
Hazel Stroy, 89, whose family has been in Seattle since 1901, was the oldest woman at the picnic.
ROOTS Committee members Paul Mitchell and William Lowe present the oldest man at the picnic, 95 year old Clyde Robinson with flowers and a gold trophy.
ROOTS Committee members Paul Mitchell and William Lowe present the oldest man at the picnic, 95 year old Clyde Robinson with flowers and a gold trophy.
MOHAI Curator of Photography Howard Giske, writes the name of a person on the photo after Bev Kelly identifies her as an old friend, Jesse Grimes.
MOHAI Curator of Photography Howard Giske, writes the name of a person on the photo after Bev Kelly identifies her as an old friend, Jesse Grimes.
Renowned performer Anita "Lady A" White sings during a tribute to Ernestine Anderson.
Renowned performer Anita “Lady A” White sings during a tribute to Ernestine Anderson.
Old Friends Bobbie Stephens and Isaac Ealy look forward to seeing each other at the ROOTS Picnic every year.
Old Friends Bobbie Stephens and Isaac Ealy look forward to seeing each other at the ROOTS Picnic every year.
Mom and daughter, Doris Ferguson and Sandra Thomas Hayes enjoyed visiting with old friends at the picnic.
Mom and daughter, Doris Ferguson and Sandra Thomas Hayes enjoyed visiting with old friends at the picnic.
Eric Barnett and Barbara Davis joined relatives at the picnic. The Barnett Family has been in Washington since the late 19th century. Powell Barnett Park in Seattle is named after a relative who moved to Seattle in 1906.
Eric Barnett and Barbara Davis joined relatives at the picnic. The Barnett Family has been in Washington since the late 19th century. Powell Barnett Park in Seattle is named after a relative who moved to Seattle in 1906.
Community historian Dr. Robert Gary signs a certificate of appreciation. The ROOTS Committee and the Northwest Black Pioneers honor community members every year at the picnic.
Community historian Dr. Robert Gary signs a certificate of appreciation. The ROOTS Committee and the Northwest Black Pioneers honor community members every year at the picnic.
Jordyn Proctor, Neveah Montgomery and Xhelan Sylve were presented by the ROOTS committee with the ROOTS Community Youth Recognition award.
Jordyn Proctor, Neveah Montgomery and Xhelan Sylve were presented by the ROOTS committee with the ROOTS Community Youth Recognition award.
Young and old attended the annual ROOTS picnic.
One of the youngest picnic attendees.

All photos by Susan Fried.

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

1 Comment

  1. Hi Susan-
    It’s me Deontrae Sherrard, 2016 Mrs. Plus America. It was a pleasure to meet you on that wonderful at the 2016 Roots Annual Family Picnic and I was humbled by your eloquent tales of Seattle historic events as you remember. I’ve been able to promote my platform, Anti-Bullying DON’T BE A VICTIM, but unfortunately I’ve had little time to research and locate you; but today there has been success. I am reaching out to you as I’d like to copies of the pictures you had taken of me at the event. I realize there may be a cost and I’m totally prepared pay, please let me know if the photos are still available. Thank you again for making that day pleasurable for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *