Kwanzaa, created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, is an annual celebration of life observed for seven days from December 26-January 1 as a way to bring African Americans together as a community to reconnect with their African roots and heritage. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes the seven core principles: (Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). The candle-lighting ceremony provides an opportunity to discuss each principle and its meaning.
Elmwood Presbyterian Church, the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW) and the YMCA are partnering with the city for the event taking place at a different location each night with a special guest speaker presenting each night on one of Kwanzaa’s core principles.
Kwanzaa kicks off Thursday, December 26 at East Orange City Hall with Umoja (Unity) from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. featuring Dr. Akil Kokayi Khalfani. Festivities continue on Friday, December 27 with the Section of the Oranges (NCNW) at the East Orange Senior Center located at 90 Halsted Street with speaker Shirley A. Johnson commemorating Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) between 4pm-8pm.
On Saturday, December 28 Karenga Karifu will discuss Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) at the East Orange YMCA located at 159 North Munn Avenue from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Rev. Maria Crompton is speaking at Elmwood United Presbyterian Church located at 135 Elmwood Avenue on Sunday, December 29 at 9:30am for Ujamma (Cooperative Economics).
The celebration will close out on Monday, December 30 with Nia (Purpose) featuring Rhonda Wise at the East Orange Public Library at 21 South Arlington Avenue from 2pm to 4pm.
For more information, call the Department of Recreation & Cultural Affairs at 973-414-4141.