Kwanzaa celebrations kick off in Chicago area

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Residents across Chicago and its suburbs are celebrating the start of Kwanzaa Thursday.

Drums announced the beginning of an annual Kwanzaa celebration at the DuSable Museum of African American History. The celebration of culture marks its 53rd anniversary this year.

"We're seeing a resurgence of not only interest in Kwanzaa, but really an interest in diving deeper into what those principles mean contemporarily," Erica Griffin, the museum's director of education.

Not to be confused with an African holiday or a black Christmas, organizers said the observance is based on African harvest celebrations. It's celebrated by more than 23 million people around the world.

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"It's important that when you get an opportunity to celebrate being African, you celebrate being African, especially in such an un-African world," said Nubian Malik.

During the celebration, elders are honored and children are encouraged to take part.

Each day, a different principle is observed and there is a lighting of a candle, fruits and vegetables and gifts. The first is unity. The following six days, the principles of self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith are observed.

While the DuSable Museum has two days of presentations to mark the start of Kwanzaa, the Bronzeville Children's Museum had activities geared more toward kids.

Children learned about Kwanzaa and enjoyed crafts, singing and storytelling.

While Kwanzaa can be a time of reflection, Terry Washington hopes it can be a part of her family's tradition.

"I think it gives them something to look up to when they see people that look like them, having strong principles that they can aspire to," Washington said.

Kwanzaa ends on Wednesday.
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