Kwanzaa, a holiday celebrating African American culture began Saturday and is celebrated through this week to New Years Day.

Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture that is held from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually held on the 6th day.

American Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 during the aftermath of the Watts riots as a specifically African-American holiday. Karenga said his goal was to "give blacks an alternative to the existing holiday of Christmas and give blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history.

Fox 17 reported here in Grand Rapids the week long celebration on Eastern Ave. Jewels of Africa, who brought in the holiday by dancing, singing and taking part in rituals to love and honor thyself, their ancestors and their culture.

“It is a cultural celebration of Blackness and the contributions of the African American people to this world,” Organizer Jewellynne “Mama Jewel” Richardson said.

During Kwanzaa, they light a candle each night on the Kinara, seven candles total that represent the seven principles of the holiday.

The first night honors “Unity” and in 2020 there is no better time to preach the importance of unity in the community.

Something Mama Jewell hopes to continue growing here in West Michigan and Kwanzaa could help in that process. She said, “Kwanzaa is what you make it so whoever comes out and celebrate that's how we come up with our program, our celebration, our fun and our love. Everyone is invited out, it is not only a Black holiday, it is a Black love holiday to represent us, how we do love and respect.”

CLICK HERE to find out what's scheduled for the week-long.


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