During the holidays we are taught that there are three major celebrations: Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. But some people are a lot less familiar with the last one.
“Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community, and culture,” says Deloyd Parker, Greater Houston Area Kwanzaa Committee member. “Kwanzaa is not a religious celebration, so it doesn’t matter what religion you are, you can celebrate Kwanzaa.”
With the popularity of movements like Black Lives Matter, some African Americans have become more mindful of their culture and heritage. As a result this may be spiking their interest in Kwanzaa.
“Looking for values that again reaffirm themselves, their commitment to community, their commitment to struggle, their commitment to issues of self-determination, to building strong communities and families, so I do expect that there will be an increase in participation among African Americans,” says Malachi Crawford, assistant director of African American studies at the University of Houston.
Crawford says there is now close to 40 million people who celebrate Kwanzaa around the world.
Kwanzaa was started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga.
It’s a seven-day event that involves lighting a candle each night to represent key principles: unity, self-determination, work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
Parker is also the executive director at the SHAPE community center, which focuses on improving the quality of life for Black people.
They will be hosting events every day of Kwanzaa.