In August 2019, the Bonner Family Reunion was held in Carrollton near the campus of the University of West Georgia. The day before – Friday, Aug. 29 – family members joined UWG representatives on campus for an open house in which information was shared on the current status of the initiative and a brief tour of the site.
During the visit, members of the Bonner family met with and heard from several representatives from UWG, including but not limited to: Dr. Micheal Crafton, interim president; Dr. Stacy Boyd, interim chief diversity officer; Dr. Ann McCleary, director of UWG's Center for Public History; Deirdre Haywood-Rouse, director of diversity education and community initiatives; and Keri Adams, assistant director of the Center for Public History. Boyd thanked Haywood-Rouse in particular, who was instrumental in coordinating the university's participation both Friday and Saturday.
Valarie Bonner Barnes organizes the annual Bonner Family Reunion. She's been doing it for more than a decade, but the event has roots back to the late 1970s.
Barnes said she coordinates the event each year in remembrance of her great-grandfather, Lupie Bonner. She said she's "sleeping so much better at night" because of the information provided through UWG's Along the Ridge historical project.
"We are so grateful for the work the university is doing," Barnes said. "This project has opened up a lot of information that we, as a family, will be processing for years to come. This is a huge, historical moment we're at right now, and it's so good to get small pieces of closure."
Boyd, McCleary and Adams spoke to the gathered group both Friday on campus and at the reunion the following day, with McCleary and Adams also making contact with family members who are willing to offer oral histories for the project. Many family members also brought photo albums, written histories and family trees they’ve compiled.
“We were able to answer some truly insightful questions and share the story of what’s transpired in the past year that’s gotten us to this point – and our early stages of planning for the future memorialization of the site,” McCleary said. “It was a powerful couple of days, and we were so honored to host the family on our campus.”