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Kwanzaa is Dec. 26 to Jan. 1

The celebration is designed to connect African Americans with their heritage.

The seven-day festival of Kwanzaa, which celebrates African-American heritage and culture, starts Wednesday and ends Jan. 1. Here are some facts about the week-long holiday.

  • Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, now chair of California State University Long Beach's Department of Africana Studies, in what he called "an audacious act of self-determination."
  • The name "Kwanzaa" comes from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits."
  • Kwanzaa's focus is the "Nguzo Saba," or the Seven Principles—unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
  • During the week, a candelabrum called a Kinara is lit, and ears of corn representing each child in the family are placed on a traditional straw mat.
  • African foods such as millet, spiced pepper balls and rice are often served. Some people fast during the holiday and a feast is often held on its final night.
  • A flag with three bars—red for the struggle for freedom, black for unity, and green for the future—is sometimes displayed during the holiday.
  • Kwanzaa is based on the theory of Kawaida, which espouses that social revolutionary change for black America can be achieved by exposing blacks to their cultural heritage.

How will you celebrate Kwanzaa? Tell us in the comments section.

This list was compiled with information from City News Service.

Weechee Warrick December 26, 2012 at 02:46 AM
So its basically Festivus.
matt costa December 26, 2012 at 05:08 AM
For the rest of us?
Darwinian Justice December 26, 2012 at 05:22 AM
No, it is racist. No? Then tell me it wouldn't be racist if Mexicans or Whites did it.
Janice P Ellis December 26, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Having lived through 400 years of slavery, a holiday period that promotes a little cultural pride isn't exactly an unreasonable thing to have, Darwinian Justice. But, if you think Kwanzaa is racist, I'd love to hear what your viewpoints of 400 years of the enslavement of the black race was. I find it ironic that, after the black race lived through not only slavery, but, decades of the Jim Crow "separate, but equal" period, some feel that having a holiday that speaks to that separation is racist. You can't tell a race of people to "stay away from us and go do your own thing", then cry racism when they DO it.
Voter with an ID December 26, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Geez, Janice, it must be really difficult to type all that bleeding heart claptrap while constantly wringing your hands. None of us here and now had anything to do with what your ancestors may have wrought. If you feel the need to parade your guilt in front of a public forum, I suppose it's your right. Maybe this knid of pandering helps you sleep at night, but the rest of us see this as either another Hallmark holiday or another attempt for a previously downtrodden group to claim special treatment status. Maybe those folks celelbrating this holiday should go into work on Dec. 25th since their holiday seemingly is meant to overtake the reverence of the season.
Janice P Ellis December 26, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I have no problems sleeping at night, Voter with an ID - and I could care less what you think about me, nor what you think of Kwanzaa, for that matter. I'm curious though, how the hell am I "parading guilt"??? History is history. We certainly can't change it; all we can do is learn from it. Nice try with your "rest of us" comment though. Like 99% of people feel the same way you do. I'm not buying it. You can go peddle that idea somewhere else. But, hey, Happy Hallmark New Year!
Darwinian Justice December 26, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Janice, you didn't live through 400 years of slavery. All you've done is parade it around like some badge of honor, then you turn it around on other races as though WE have been around for 400 years doing it to you! The creator of Kwaanza was a racist, rapist and a sadist. Did you know that he whipped two black women with electrical cabling, beat them with a baton and burned them with a soldering iron? And you're taking part in a holiday that he created? As for the obscure Jim Crow argument, none of us told you "Stay away from us', Janice. You're looking at another race of people and then assigning the blame of what some people did centuries or even decades ago to people who had nothing to do with it. Gosh, sounds familiar. Sounds like... a Klansman talking. You then say "We certainly can't change it; all we can do is learn from it." If that was the case you've got a lot of learning to do, because there is no difference between what you're doing and what racists did in the past. I don't owe you anything, Janice, nor will you take anything from me. We're both people, each working to live their lives. Unless I specifically wronged you, I owe you nothing, nor do you owe me. But if you want to live a life as a person instead of a victim, try following a message that isn't born from hatred or crime. Isn't that cross getting heavy anyway?
21th humanitarian December 27, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Each of you speaks as if you are leaders of a group of opinionated people but you only speak for yourself. Kwanzaa is a holiday rich in celebration of African culture. Why not participate? It is as American as apple pie, Italian food or Chinese New Year. There are African people in America, period. Eat African food, listen to stories of faith and love, dance to the beat of a harmonious drum-fight no more for we are neighborhoods the share communities where trees and children grow. Let us take care in how we treat one another and learn from our ancestors who struggle with humanity
21th humanitarian December 27, 2012 at 02:58 AM
The Truth Maulana Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett on July 14, 1941) is an African-American professor of Africana Studies, activist and author, best known as the creator of the pan-African and African-American holiday of Kwanzaa. Karenga was a major figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s and co-founded with Hakim Jamal the black nationalist and social change organization US, which means "Us Black people". Karenga is the Chair of the Africana Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach. He is the director of the Kawaida Institute for Pan African Studies and the author of several books, including his "Introduction to Black Studies", a comprehensive Black/African Studies textbook now in its fourth edition. Karenga founded the Organization Us, a cultural black nationalist group, in 1965. He is also known for having co-hosted, in 1984, a conference that gave rise to the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, and in 1995, he sat on the organizing committee and authored the mission statement of the Million Man March. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Maulana Karenga on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.
21th humanitarian December 27, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Joyous Kwanzaa everyone!
21th humanitarian December 27, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Joyous Kwanzaa everyone! The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities. The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid 1920s, and adopted the same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings. The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the Civil Rights Movement and progress among minorities. The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to the USA's "Anglo-Saxon" blood, harking back to 19th-century nativism and claiming descent from the original 18th-century British colonial revolutionaries.
21th humanitarian December 27, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Isn't about time to celebrate Africans in America. I know I do!
Voter with an ID December 27, 2012 at 04:29 AM
21th (sounds like saying 21 with a lisp), any reason you brought up your Readers Digest version of th KKK and omitted the part about Robert Byrds involvement and support? How about your take on the fact that Africans sold their own people into slavery? Why no mention of that inconvenient fact? Isn't it because it's easier to blame it on the 'rich' white man, just so the descendants of slaves can demand reparations? So, celebrate as you will...don't forget to blame the African slave sellers for these people's plight, just like you would blame drug dealers for selling crack to addicts.
Janice P Ellis December 27, 2012 at 04:42 PM
You see, Darwinian Justice, that's what is so warped and twisted about thinking you know someone inside and out based on posts in this forum. I grew up in Berkeley in the '60's, where it really was the ultimate melting pot. I was taught that we're all the same - and I believe that to this day. We all have hopes and dreams and fears. We all have our crosses to bear, Darwinian Justice, but, you're totally off-base as to what you think mine are. Thankfully, racism isn't one of them, nor is my feeling like a victim as a result of what the black race has gone through. So, you can save your zingers for someone else. And, no, obviously I DIDN'T live through 400 years of slavery, but, as a black person, I live with the after effects of it. Getting back to Kwanzaa, my family doesn't celebrate it, but, I can understand why something like Kwanzaa exists. I absolutely don't believe Kwanzaa WOULD exist if the black race hadn't been oppressed and enslaved, nor would America have seen the likes of the Civic Rights movement of the '60's. There would have been no NEED for them. One has no need to show strength unless another has tried to show one as weak. As so often happens on these forums, some have no desire to seek to understand, but, only seek to insult and put others down. I find it very interesting that those people rarely use their real names. As usual, everyone is talking, but, no one is listening. All some of you seem to care about are insults.
Janice P Ellis December 27, 2012 at 05:02 PM
You're correct, Voter with an ID - Africans did sell their own people into slavery. But, who did they sell them TO? To be fair, we need to include the ENTIRE ugly picture, not just one part of it. And, if you really think this is about reparations, you really ARE clueless. No amount of money could undo what has been done, nor make what happened ok. I've read your posts on this forum for awhile now, and you're always ready and willing to hurl insults. You never seem to have anything positive to say, which says a lot about who you are. Then, you label people such as myself as "bleeding hearts". Believe me, if it separates me from you and people like Darwinian Justice, who always have something negativeand insulting to say, I'll wear the "bleeding heart" badge with honor.
Darwinian Justice December 27, 2012 at 11:40 PM
No need for a bleeding heart badge. The victim mentality acts perfectly well as a replacement.

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