Local Community Holds "Family" Reunion Despite Arlene - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Local Community Holds "Family" Reunion Despite Arlene

Hundreds of people filled Youther Lee Keyes Park Saturday afternoon for a family reunion of sorts, and nothing could stop them, not even a tropical storm.

"I don't think Arlene was gonna stop this. No. No. I think the community was ready for this and it's been a long time coming," said Turnkey Reunion Committee Chairperson Willie Anderson.

Many of the people here call or have called this community home at one time, and so they decided to get together to celebrate the past, present, and the future, with such things as live entertainment, good food, and of course, a fun time.

"We wanted the community to get back together and just enjoy some of the things that we used to do out in the community when the community first came about," said Anderson.

Sammie Lee Keyes Gray is the daughter of one of the ladies who helped to bring this community into existence for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement.

She was there to see her mother's dream come true then, and says it is still coming true now.

"This is indeed truly and family reunion because when it started out, there was a lot of disbelief. They didn't think it would happen. There was a lot of negativeness, but now this is the fruit. Now, they can see that if you have a dream, believe in your dream," said Gray.

Many of the young people present were learning all of those lessons and more, through people like Mary Spinks Thigpen, who has lived in the community for 37 years.

"Once I got in this neighborhood, you couldn't take me out because there are some of the most brilliant, hard-working people that make a difference in this neighborhood," said Thigpen.

And hopefully reunions like this one will help to encourage even more.

The reunion also included a neighborhood parade Saturday morning.

And here's an interesting fact - Turnkey was named after someone who saw the community on a map and said it was shaped like a key.

By Karla Redditte

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