50th Anniversary of Kwanzaa Kicks off Monday in L.A.

Kwanzaa (Spencer Platt / Getty)
Spencer Platt / Getty

The holiday of Kwanzaa begins on Monday with a celebration in Los Angeles that will also mark the 50th anniversary of the holiday’s first observance, in 1966.

The “official Kwanzaa website” describes the holiday and its meaning:

Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana Studies. Kwanzaa, a seven-day cultural festival, begins December 26 and ends January 1. It joins communitarian values and practices of Continental African and African American culture.

During the holiday, families and communities organize activities around the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles): Umoja (Unity); Kujichagulia (Self-Determination); Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility); Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics); Nia (Purpose); Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). Participants also celebrate with feasts (karamu), music, dance, poetry, narratives and end the holiday with a day dedicated to reflection and recommitment to The Seven Principles and other central cultural values.

The holiday also involves lighting candles on seven-branched candelabras called kinaras.

In the recent past, Kwanzaa has become an object of political controversy. In 2012, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accused Republicans of allowing the “fiscal cliff” negotiations over tax cutes that were due to expire to drag on into the final hours of the year due to their lack of respect for Kwanzaa and other holidays.

In 2013, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama sent Kwanzaa greetings, as did the Republican National Committee. Breitbart News’ Jerome Hudson argued at the time, however, that “the entire holiday is a fake and was invented out of thin air by a radical ex-con named Ron Karenga.”

The Kwanzaa kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the African American Cultural Center, 3018 W. 48th Street, Los Angeles CA 90043. Attendees are encouraged by organizers to “bring clean warm clothes and blankets for the needy.”

The holiday runs through January 1.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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