Ninth Family Unity Fest Saturday

EASLEY — This Saturday marks the ninth year of the Family Unity Festival in Easley. Elizabeth Gramblin, a retired school teacher who was born and raised in Pickens County, conceived of the idea for the Family Unity Festival after attending a similar event in Aiken.
Nine years ago, she thought “We can do this in Easley.”
Nine years later, Gramblin is happy with the event’s growth and still believes “it is a wonderful thing to do.”
Easley’s Family Unity Festival, held the second Saturday each February, began as a simple parade in honor and celebration of Black History Month. Over the years, it has grown to include live entertainment on the stage erected in Old Market Square; savory BBQ and a variety of other tasty eats; art, craft and local mercantile vendors; inflatable bouncy fun and balloon animal artists for children; a fashion show and much more.
“The first year we put on this event, we were concerned people would think our event was an angry protest,” Gramblin said. “It isn’t anything like that. What we want is to establish a positive rapport within and among the community — to show people that we are all one and that race doesn’t matter.”
As an African American woman who grew up in the South — a historical hotbed when it comes to race relations — Gramblin has experienced many changes throughout the course of her life.
“We all have history,” she said, “and we can learn from one another. There have been issues and there will continue to be issues, but we have made a lot of progress over the years.”
The Family Unity Festival is an opportunity for people of all races to celebrate the positive changes and growth in their community, as well as a time to honor those African American leaders and community members who struggled through enslavement and segregation so their children and grandchildren could live in a state of freedom and equality.
One of the most amazing changes Gramblin has noted over the years is that children do not see color.
“When I was coming up as a child, the world was extremely black and white,” she said. “It is different for children today. Instead of black and white, they see pink and tan. My grandchildren have friends and sleepovers with other children, and race does not matter.”
Of course, Gramblin realizes that there is still opportunity for growth. Even in its ninth year, there are few whites who attend the Family Unity Festival in Easley. Gramblin’s hope is that this will change and wants people to know that this event is all-inclusive. Optimistic for the future, she believes that race relations “will continue to be better, especially when people can truly love and learn to work with one another. Hate must be eradicated. Education has to be important. Then we hope, trust and pray for the best.”
Beginning at 11 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m., the Family Unity Festival vendors, entertainment and inflatables will be housed in Easley’s Old Market Square. The Family Unity Festival Parade will begin at 1 p.m. and follows the same route as the Easley Christmas Parade. Dunburks Premier Events and The City of Easley have offered Gramblin and her committee tremendous help and support.
In the event of inclement weather, the festival will be rescheduled for the following Saturday, February 19.