Within the last week, I found myself saying, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa.” And, I also had several people inquire about Kwanzaa as they had never heard of it. What I realized is that even though Kwanzaa turns 50 this year, there is so much more opportunity to educate the community on the importance of this African American celebration. I see it as a festival of bright lights that came to brighten a people during a period of total darkness.
Kwanzaa, which derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest” is celebrated in the United States and in other nations of the Western African diaspora in the Americas. It incorporates African and African-American culture into a 7-day time of peace, love, hope, joy, acceptance, dedication, support, and reflection. For me and many like me, it is a time to really celebrate the rich heritage that is within us and follows us everywhere we may travel.
Kwanzaa was conceived in Los Angeles, CA by Dr. Maulana Karenga in ’66 in response to the uprising called the Watts riots which involved deadly clashes between police and blacks because an officer named Lee Minikus erroneously arrested an African American on suspicion (sounds similar to things of today).
When the above took place and was paired with high levels of unemployment, segregation, lack of housing, and being seen as less than, the end result was a rebellion and a starvation for change. That change began with Kwanzaa being born.
Black people need something tangible to call their own, to be passionate about, and to celebrate. Holidays are a time of family, reflection, and provides a sense of direction. So, Kwanzaa was born!
Kwanzaa gives me, my children, and my family a sense of black pride — and, that is okay. It is a time to celebrate a rich community with a rich history and rich expectations.
The 7 Core Principles of Kwanzaa…
As we celebrate 50 years of Kwanzaa, my prayer is that there will be a major shift in God’s Universe and Black’s in America will begin to receive the respect and honor due to them (us) for being the prime source of labor when these United States of America was being built.
Move Forward in Righteousness XOXO♥