Families begin week-long celebration of Kwanzaa

December 26, 2011 4:43:56 PM PST
Monday marks the beginning of the Kwanzza celebration, which honors African culture and heritage.

Families gathered at the Bronzeville Children's Museum on South Stony Island to learn more about the African-American cultural celebration established 45 years ago.

"It's something that is necessary for our people and all people to know about the contributions of our ancestors and also to help our children look forward to the future," said Peggy Montes, Bronzeville Children's Museum.

The museum holds a kick-off event every year on the first day of Kwanzaa, a week-long cultural celebration observed from December 26 to January 1.

Each day is dedicated to a different principle and the names are taken from the Swahili language. For instance, Monday is Umoja or unity; then Kujichagulia or self-determination; Ujima or collective work and responsibility; Ujamaa or cooperative economics; Nia or purpose; Kuumba or creativity; and Imani or faith.

"This is the foundation of building a community, of reclaiming who we are, of working together," said Oba William King, poetic storyteller.

Although the museum has activities geared toward younger kids, people of all ages enjoyed the celebration and learned something new.

"We figured it would be good for the kids since they're out of school to come by and learn about Kwanzaa," said Kevin Lee, parent.

"It's important that we not only recognize our history with the past, the present but also let the future know that they have a tie to it," said Chandrea Hopkins, parent.

The Kwanzaa kick-off at the museum gets bigger every year and organizers say that's a sign that more people are responding to the message of strengthening and empowering the African-American community.

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