Reunion 2011 - Panama City, Florida

 

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Thanks to the hard work and planning of Judy Roulhac, descendent of Luke Roulhac, the two thousand eleven Roulhac Family Association reunion was one to remember. The Association’s July 14-17, 2011 visit to Panama City allowed attendees to rediscover the challenges and victories of our Roulhac ancestors and to pass them to our children and future generations.  Roulhac were enslaved in nearby Jackson and Gadsden counties from the early 1840’s until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed in 1865 after the Civil War, the bloodiest of all wars on American soil.

 

The educational bus tour included visits to historic sites of interest to Roulhac’s of African descent. The first stop was to the former Roulhac High School on Pecan Street in Chipley (Washington County). The school was named to honor Thomas Joseph Roulhac who in 1930 was instrumental in convincing the County to open Chipley Colored School, a high school for black children who had been excluded from white schools. The school now serves as the T.J. Roulhac Enrichment and Cultural Center, a non-profit community service organization working to meet the health and human service needs of men, women, and children of all ethnicities.  The Roulhac name is further perpetuated in Chipley at the Roulhac Middle School on Brickyard Road.

 

During a stop the Roulhac Cemetery on Wynn Street in Marianna (Jackson County), Reverend Mayowa Reynolds of Detroit, MI, wife of Lumumba Reynolds, a descendant of Nero Roulhac, led the attendees in a traditional African libation ceremony. Family members fervently called upon their recent and long ago departed ancestors to bear witness to what we do and inspire us to reclaim the African mind and spirit evident during their persistent struggles against untold oppression.

 

A southern-style fish fry and tour of the Ely-Criglar House, a 3,500 square feet Greek Revival-inspired home built in part by Francis Roulhac Ely’s slaves in 1840 and now owned by lawyers Laurence and Ruth Barnes Kinsolving, offered a rare look into an antebellum home which for more than a century was only accessible to servants through back doors.

 

The educational component of the reunion ended at the Chipola College Theatre where Passing, a one-woman, ten-character stage production starring multi-talented Mayowa Reynolds, was presented to the Marianna community. The play was inspired by the life of Minerva Roulhac, an orphan born in 1885 in Marianna. Minerva, who looked white, and her sister Emma were raised in Marianna’s black community by Aggie Roulhac, a former slave on one of Francis Roulhac Ely’s two Jackson County plantations. Rev. Robert D. Roulhac, Minerva’s husband, and many RFA members’ ancestors are buried in the Roulhac Cemetery.

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