The COVID-19 pandemic could not keep these wonderful folks from gathering to warm each other with their family love and pride. Breaking from tradition, while keeping their string of consecutive family reunions unbroken, the RBMHB & RF Family Reunion was held in the clouds on Zoom on August 1st, 2020.
The screen shots below show some of the individuals and family groups that came together for this momentus event. There were "shout outs" and "It's good to see you again" greetings galore as folks peered into their computers, iPads, and phone screens to greet each other.
Those of you who helped to make the gathering such a rousing success and wish to relive some of the moments, as well as those of you who could not join the gathering or missed out on the opportunity to register can experience the passions of the event by viewing the videos on the Video page.
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! This is a ‘shout-out’ to all the family members who took part in our 2020 Family Reunion celebration. The Family Reunion Committee continues to receive accolades from family members across the country about the successful Zoom reunion. But this first-time virtual reunion could never have been carried out without your commitment and participation. Counting the 175 family members who actually registered to participate plus the additional family members in their respective homes and other locations, an estimated 250-275 people from 15 states took part in the reunion. The Committee is also ecstatic about the number of family members who are now stepping up to the plate to help make our reunion continue to be a stellar occasion. Money to support operating expenses and scholarships has increased; and requests to purchase masks to be used during the pandemic are now in back order status. Again, all profits realized from masks and t-shirt sales will go toward operating expenses. Please note that a design for a tee-shirt is currently on the way.
Several people have also voiced their willingness to volunteer and/or to provide in-kind contributions; purchase stamps, paper and envelopes for mail-outs, etc. Am I surprised by all of these wonderful things that are happening? Well, the answer is “NO.” It takes all of us working together and real success can only come if each member does his/her part. And again I say, the Roberts, Borders, Mauney, Howell, Briggs and Related Families can do anything it puts its mind to. I am asking you to be patient just a little longer. Efforts are on-going to package the reunion program. It will be available for you over the next two to three weeks. Again, thank you for helping to make our 2020 Family Reunion a success. Please continue to be safe and I love you!
Keeping The Tradition Alive Through Mordern Technology
Family pride, love, and discovery were again on full display at the 115th gathering of the families in August of 2020, as warm and exciting as if it had been in person. Although it spanned only a couple of hours on a single Saturday afternoon, the attending family members were able to enjoy a heartfelt welcome, an inspiring keynote address, and other program activites that have been featured in past reunions.
Screen shot - Gathering together on Zoom . . .
. . . greeting familiar faces . . .
. . . and welcoming new ones!
Next Up: the 116th Reunion - Details Yet To Be Determined!
As we begin a new year, it is increasingly evident that the COVID-19 pandemic still grips most parts of the country and the world. Because of that reality, the Reunion Committee has decided to again plan to hold the gathering of the families online in August 2021. Details of the event will be announced in early March, 2021.
See You Again Next August!
A Brief Family History
As retold each year in the Family Reunion program (photo from the 100th Reunion Souvenir Journal).
The ancestors of the Roberts, Borders, Mauney, Howell, Briggs and Related Families were not all kin, but were fellow slaves from various plantations in Cleveland County, North Carolina. We are the descendants of these former slaves and former slave owners. Our history records include the slave owner family names of Roberts, Borders, Fulenwider, Magness, Weir, Mauney, Beam, and Briggs.
The matriarch of our family is a slave woman named Phebe Magness Roberts (owned by William Magness, slave owner) who had seven daughters (known as the "Seven Sisters") and one son, born between the late 1790's and the early 1800's. The "Seven Sisters" were named Sylvia Roberts, Delilah Dillingham Beam (b.1799), Fannie Briggs (b.1803), Kitty Bird Roberts (b.1804), Betsy Forney (b.1806), Priscilla Mauney (b.1814), and Martha Roberts Howell (b.1819). Her son, Josh, did not reach maturity.
The patriarchs of our family were the male slaves named Emanuel Roberts, Big George Roberts, Isaac Roberts (b.1794), Big Bob Roberts (b.1815), Aaron Roberts, Simpson Roberts, and Little Bob Roberts. Big George and Simpson married two of Phebe's daughters, Kitty Bird and Martha. Martha's second husband was Solomon Howell.
The descendants of these seven sisters and seven male slaves toiled together as family and developed a kinship for one another so much so that Wesley Mauney (b.1846), John Wesley Roberts (b.1862), and Eli Borders Roberts (b.1840), all descendants of related slaves, organized a family reunion to include as one family all descendants of the "Seven Sisters" and "Great Slave Fathers". Wesley Mauney was the son of Priscilla Mauney, Eli was the son of Martha Roberts, and J.W. Roberts was the grandson of Big George and Kitty Bird Roberts. The wife of J.W. Roberts (Ida Roberts) was the granddaughter of Emanuel Roberts.
The first reunion was held at the home of Wesley and Naomi Mauney in 1906. For many years, the reunion was held at the homestead of Mason and China Roberts - son of Eli and Sarah Roberts - in Cleveland county (pictured above). The accomplishments of this great family are numerous. Wesley Mauney is credited for building numerous schools and churches, and dedicating his life to improving the quality of life for his people. John Wesley Roberts was an elder in the CME Zion Church and founded Roberts Tabernacle CME church in Shelby, NC. Eli Roberts was a great land owner who donated land for the Borders School and Holly Oak Park in Shelby.
Members of our family have become preachers, teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, legislators, engineers, pilots, artists, writers, and in general, outstanding American citizens.
Reunion Day's Activities
Planning for the 116th Family Reunion Has Begun!
The Roberts, Borders, Mauney, Howell, Briggs & Related Families Reunion Committee have already begun planning for the 116th reunion, which will be held on the first weekend of August of 2021. Check back to this web site in early 2021 for updates.
Saturday, August 7,th 2021
Virtual Reunion (Zoom link and agenda later)
RBMHB & RF Reunion Registration
"Looking forward to seeing you again in 2021."
Note: A 2021 Newsletter will be sent by postal mail and emailed to family members soon.
Once again the Family Reunion will be held online via Zoom. To register for the event, click the button below and complete the Zoom registration form. There is no charge for registering for this year's reunion, however, Scholarship Fund and General Fund donations, as well as Scholarship Applications are always welcome. (Scroll down for links to forms.)
You can also use this QR code from your phone to register:
Download the Latest Reunion Newsletter
If you do not receive a Reunion Newsletter in the mail by the end of March 2021 you can click the button above to download a copy.
Please donate to a Reunion Fund!
Even though the reunion has gone online (for this year only), please consider donating to either the General Fund or the Scholarship Fund this year to allow us to continue our efforts to advance the family's values and providing much needed scholarship help for recipients still pursuing their education.
Donate to a Reunion Fund
If you would like to donate to the Family Reunion General Fund - to help cover operating costs - or the Family Reunion Scholarship Fund - which provides monetary assistance to our deserving scholarship recipients - you can do so by clicking the button below to download a copy of the donation form and send it to the address indicated on the form. You can also send donations using either "Zelle" or "Cash App" to "firstname.lastname@example.org".
Each year the RBMHB offers financial assistance in the form of scholarships to members of the RBMHB Family Reunion who are continuing their education in an accredited institution of higher learning. To apply for a scholarship, Use the button below to open a Scholarship Application Form, complete it and mail it to: Brenda Ford, 5122 Casino Dr., Charlotte, NC 28216
Help us build a reliable contact list!
Each year the Reunion Committee mails out almost 500 registration forms and newsletters, only to have a large portion returned because of incorrect address information. To ensure that we accurately target family members we need a reliable list of names and addresses to rely on.
You can help us maintain a reliable list by signing up and logging up on this site by clicking on the "Login" or "Signup" link in the menu bar. Once you're logged in, click on the "Update Contact Info" link on the menu bar to enter your information.
This will allow us to have up-to-date information for sending out Family Reunion information and updates (we will never share your information with anyone else). After that, if your contact information changes you can return to the site, log in and update the information yourself.
Thank you for helping us stay up-to-date!
Written communications can be sent to the Reunion Committee at the address shown in the footer of each page on this site. For questions or concerns about this site, please contact Arnold Sanders by email at email@example.com
2020 - 2022 Reunion Committee
1st Vice President:
2nd Vice President:
Rev. Dr. Vincent Howell
At-Large Committee Members
Dr. Graham Watt
Howard B. Roberts, Jr.
About the RBMHB & Related Families
"Our Vision and Mission, and how we make them happen."
Emmanuel, Big George, Isaac, Big Bob, Aaron, Simpson, Little Bob
The seven daughters of Phebe and the male slaves on the plantation formed strong family units that comprised the roots of our amazing family. In the year 1906, three descendants of those early unions - Wesley Mauney, John Wesley Roberts, and Eli Borders Roberts organized the first family reunion. Descendants of those early founders have gathered to strengthen those bonds each year continuously since then.
Founding Families of the Reunion
Eli Borders Roberts & wife Sarah
John Wesley Roberts & wife Ida
Wesley Mauney & wife Naomi
Growing Participation from Year to Year
The photo on the right was taken in 1977 at the 72nd reunion of the families. It captures a reinactment of a gathering of the original seven sisters and male slaves on the Roberts plantation. The scene was staged to give younger members of the family a glimpse of what life was like on the plantation when the family's roots were just beginning to be nourished.
The photo on the left was taken in 2017 at the 112th reunion of the families. It depicts the enormous crowd gathered on Sunday morning to worship, enjoy a wonderful meal together, and listen to an inspiring keynote address. Reunion gatherings have grown in size from enough to fill the front lawn of Wesley and Ida Roberts' home to enough to fill two ballrooms of the host hotel in Charlotte.
The colors shown here have been adopted as the official colors of the various family branches. Family members often wear their family colors proudly when attending reunion events. Many often wear purple, the color of our matriarch, which is always appropriate at any event.
(Excerpted from the 2020 reunion newsletter by Reunion President Graham Watt.)
". . . We are blessed to come from a strong people. Our ancestors withstood the trauma of kidnapping and transport from the homeland; the brutality of slavery and attendant family separations; Jim Crow; the ongoing struggle for civil rights; and the challenges of surviving and thriving in today's world. Yet, here we are! In the words of Maya Angelou, "…Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave, I rise I rise I rise." We are fortunate to have family members who continue to seek more detailed answers about our ancestors and their experiences. I am pleased to tell you that their research efforts have yielded more information about our history, and we look forward to sharing their findings with you at the 115th Roberts, Borders, Mauney, Howell, Briggs, and Related Families Reunion in August 2020.
Making it Happen Year After Year.
Reunion Planning Committee Operations
If you are curious about how the reunion planning and execution gets done year after year, and want to become a part of the Family Reunion Planning Committee, this section will help. The reunion committee is always eager to welcome fresh perspectives and young talents to its already energetic, experienced, and resourceful group of organizers. We expect to face many new challenges in the coming years, and hope that your contributions will make the outcome of our efforts to face those challenges even more successful and rewarding.
Committee meetings are held on the second or third Saturday of each month – except the months of September and December. A schedule of actual dates and locations is created during the October meeting. Meetings have traditionally been held at the home of committee members who volunteeer to host them on a rotating basis. However, the recent social distancing and other restrictions placed on municipalities because of COVID-19 have made it necessary to meet online rather in person. Regular meetings began being scheduled on Zoom Video Conferencing in April of this year.
2018 Reunion Committee
Committee Officers and Their Duties
The President serves a 2-year term and is succeeded by the First Vice President at the end of the term. The duties of the office include:
Organizing and presiding over all regular monthly committee meetings.
Securing venues for the family reunion activities.
Delegating responsibilities to other committee members.
Presiding over reunion operations.
Coordinating sub-committee operations.
Ensuring all committee members are in good standing.
Regularly communicating with other officers.
Mentoring the First Vice President.
The First Vice President serves a 2-year term and is succeeded by the Second Vice President at the end of the term.
Performing all duties of the President in his or her absence.
Succeeds the President at the end of his or her term, or if that office is vacated for any reason.
The Second Vice President serves a 2-year term. At the end of the term, a new Second Vice President is elected by the membership at the reunion meeting.
Performing all duties of the First Vice President in his or her absence.
Succeeds the First Vice President at the end of his or her term, or if that office is vacated for any reason.
Secretary - No defined term. Elected by the committee members when the office is vacated for any reason.
Record the meeting minutes and log attendance at each committee meeting.
Communicate notice of upcoming meetings to each committee member in a timely manner.
Treasurer - No defined term. Elected by the committee members when the office is vacated for any reason.
Maintain the family reunion bank account by depositing money collected and issuing payments as necessary.
Report expense payments, collections, and fund allocations at each regular committee meeting.
At Large Members - No defined term. Voluntary positions open to all family members who desire to serve.
Serve on standing and ad-hoc committees as directed by the President.
Represent the family members as advocates during committee meetings.
Reunion Weekend at a Glance
Here is how the reunion weekend unfolds:
Credentials and Late Registration - Credentials are given to pre-registered family members and late registrations are collected ($5.00 late fee for each person registered) at the host hotel.
Opening of the Family Museum - Family photographs, memorabilia, heritage documentation, and other artifacts commemorating the families' rich and continuing history are on display. The museum is open to the family as well as the public throughout the weekend. Family members are encouraged to contribute their own photos and artifacts for display.
Credentials and Late Registration - Credentials are given to pre-registered family members and late registrations are collected ($5.00 late fee for each person registered) at the picnic site.
Family Picnic - This is the traditional gathering of food and fun where cousins rub shoulders and consume homemade delicacies as they renew old acquaintances, introduce new and old family members to each other and generally have a good time.
Family Talent Show - Family members showcase their talents and gather afterwards to hob-knob and get to know each other better.
Family Worship - Our family motto – "We've come this far by faith" – is exemplified and strengthened at this morning worship, which features a keynote address by an esteemed family clergy member or other personality.
Fellowship Dinner/Meeting - Immediately following the worship, a catered dinner is enjoyed by the family, accompanied by special presentations that include family member memorials, special presentations and remarks by family members, and a recounting of the family history.
Our goal each year is to fill each day with enough interesting family oriented activities to keep reunion participants engaged while giving ample opportunities for building strong family bonds.
In order to ensure that all the reunion activities happen smoothly, the following logistical items must be handled by the reunion committee during the months leading up to the actual reunion weekend. The planning and execution begins in October and culminates with a final host hotel walk-through in July one week before the event.
Overall and pre-weekend items
Complete host hotel arrangements (acquire signed contract)
Process Registration Forms – print and mail paper forms
Membership – Verify membership list, recruitment, etc.
Complete Reunion Program design and printing
Update media – web site, online registration, newsletter (printing and mailing), etc.
Complete weekend Itinerary
Scholarships - process applications and disburse funds
Friday related tasks
Setup Family Museum
Charter Tour bus
Pass out credentials and accept late registration fees
Ensure Hotel Signage is in place and accurate
Saturday related tasks
Setup picnic – Venue
Setup and wrap-up
Transportation from hotel to picnic site
Activities (adult and youth)
Talent Show – Venue, talent management
Sunday related tasks
Venue – setup and wrap-up
Complete program roster (to printer by Monday prior)