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Kwanzaa celebrations kick off around Northeast Florida

Week-long celebration of African-American culture ends Friday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kwanzaa is officially underway. The week-long celebration of African-American culture looks a little different across Northeast Florida this year because of the ongoing pandemic.

But many are still finding ways to celebrate.

A virtual meeting on Zoom is being held at 7 p.m. Saturday. To join, click here and enter Meeting ID: 858 9539 8315 with Passcode: 531709.

“It is not a religious holiday, but it is a spiritual holiday because it is a great review for the end of the year,” said Vanessa Davis, business and development manager for the Ritz Theatre.

Davis explained that Kwanzaa started on the West Coast in the 60s and has been celebrated in Jacksonville since the 80s.

“Dr. Karenga in California did some studies and some other women and men and his cohorts and colleagues came together and thought about principles the African-American community could use and thought about different ways that connect the community of Black and brown people here back to Africa,” Davis said.

Many across Northeast Florida began the celebration of Kwanzaa on Saturday.
Many across Northeast Florida began the celebration of Kwanzaa on Saturday. (WJXT)

Seven candles represent seven principles that are celebrated during the final seven days of the year.

“Kwanzaa is Swahili word. It means ‘first harvest’ and the principles are in Swahili as well,” Davis explained.

The principles are: Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.

Davis said anyone can celebrate Kwanzaa and honor these principles.

“Those are giant topics I think everybody should be talking about,” she said. “Especially with a year like this year, it is important to come together in whatever way we can, reassess our year, think about our purpose, our creativity, our self-determination and how we want to work with others in the community and move forward.”

The last day of Kwanzaa is Jan. 1.

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