News / USA

    Kwanzaa Now Mainstream Part of African-American Culture

    People celebrate Kwanzaa at the Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast Washington
    People celebrate Kwanzaa at the Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast Washington

    Multimedia

    Mana Rabiee

    It's a week-long celebration called Kwanzaa, an African-American cultural holiday founded in the United States during the black power movement of the 1960s.  Today, hundreds of thousands of African-Americans across the U.S. observe Kwanzaa during the week leading up to New Year's Day on January 1.  

    At the Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast Washington, the adults officiating over this Kwanzaa gathering make certain all the children get up to dance.  Kwanzaa was essentially created in 1966 by a black activist named Maulana Karenga. He designed the holiday to help black Americans recognize their African heritage - and in turn to be proud of their African-American culture.

    The holiday is rooted in West African traditions like the winter harvest.  Wanda Aikens is a community activist.   She remembers the first Kwanzaa gatherings that were being organized back in 1966.

    "We began to understand that the harvesting that we would experience through Kwanzaa is really the same as people here would celebrate New Year's," said Aikens.  "You think about the seeds you have planted, you think about all the activities, all the visions, the missions, all the inspirations that you want to have. Not just in yourself but in your community. And we began to put all those things together for Kwanzaa."

    Kwanzaa celebrations center around the lighting of seven candles - each one representing a key principle of life such as unity, self-determination, creativity and faith. Gift giving is also a Kwanzaa tradition.  Aikens remembers the simple gifts she exchanged more than 40 years ago.

    "When I was young we took oranges, because oranges were so precious," recalled Aikens.  "Everybody didn't have oranges. And you would take the old lace and you would put lace around the oranges and stick cloves in them and make these beautiful oranges. And you would give it to someone maybe tied in a napkin."

    Sir Jameson celebrated Kwanzaa as a boy in the 1980s.  He's here today with his family to pass down the seven principles of Kwanzaa to his children including his toddler son named Seven.

    "I did a little bit of Kwanzaa in the 90s, but I strayed away from Kwanzaa and I want to get back into it now that I've got my own family and I want to teach them the seven principles of Kwanzaa," said Jameson.

    Hadiya Sholtz, 10, came from Philadelphia to play drums here with her little sister.  She says her favorite principle of Kwanzaa is Unity.

    SHOLTZ: "We don't usually come together a lot in Philadelphia so when I come down here, it's like everyone is coming together for one holiday."
    RABIEE: "It feels like a community?"
    SHOLTZ: "Yes."
    RABIEE: "Like having a big family?"
    SHOLTZ: "Yes."

    Ivy Hylton has been hosting Kwanzaa celebrations for nearly two decades. Today, she's calling on the celebrants at the Anacostia Museum to offer their New Years' resolutions, based on the Kwanzaa principle of shared community.

    "I'm going to make a determined, conscious decision, to spend my dollars at black businesses," said Hylton.
    It is estimated that between 500,000 and as many as three million African-Americans observe the holiday, which culminates in a feast on January 1.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.