Educators Teach How Kwanzaa Can Impact the African-American Community
Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration of African harvest, culture, community, and family.
It honors African American and Pan-African culture and traditions.
Educator Connie Cooper says celebrating Kwanzaa is about building a stronger community for everyone.
“It’s a certain time of the year where you come together with family, you come together with friends, anyone that wants to learn more about African American culture and heritage, just to speak about it, to be in solidarity with people who look like you, and educating those who don’t look like you, all in the name of being unified.”
She says every candle on the Kinara means something special.
“And these candles would be typically in the Kinara and the pedestal of that actually stands for the roots of African people and you would see a black candle and the black candle actually represents the African people.”
Fruits and ears of corn are laid out on the family table to represent a different principle.
“It represents the parents’ wish and desire for their children to grow up right, to be good citizens, to be good humans, to be able to walk in their purpose.”
News Reporter Keisha Swafford says, “Currently, it is Ujamaa, day 4 of Kwanzaa and it means cooperative economics.”
The unity cup is a symbol of Kwanzaa to bring the family together.
“Everyone actually sips from the unity cup, beginning with the senior most person that’s in the room. After everyone has sipped from the unity cup, everyone says harambe and we repeat that 7 times and harambe is Swahili for let us “all pull together.”
Karen Riley Simmons celebrates Kwanzaa because she believes in its values.
“While my daughter was young, we would light one of the candles each day and talk about the corresponding principles for that day and how we could incorporate those principles into our lives.”
Simmons says she works to keep Kwanzaa alive in the community.
“Many of the principles are outward facing, collective responsibility and cooperative economics, which is the fourth principle, the fourth day of Kwanzaa, those principles can go with us all through the year.”
Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga to bring all races together.
“African colors are red, green, and black and they represent the people, they represent the struggle, and then they represent the hope of the people coming out of the struggle. I think the more that we branch out and learn about other cultures, other people, where they came from and their traditions, then we can have a much better, informed conversation and we can get to know one another better.”
The more African Americans learn about Kwanzaa, the more they can be open to it.
Kwanzaa continues to be celebrated until January 1st.