DuSable Museum kicks off Kwanzaa celebrations

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The day after Christmas is also the first day of Kwanzaa. The celebration honors the African heritage that's a big part of African American culture, and an event at the DuSable Museum of African American History helped to get it all started.

Drums kicked off the museum's annual celebration of Kwanzaa, a cultural observance that takes place over seven days and is based on African harvest celebrations. Each day, a different principle is observed. The first is unity.

"Unity as a people, unity in family, unity overall. That's our goal here at DuSable today," said Erica Griffin, DuSable Museum.

The following six days observe self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Kwanzaa was started more than 50 years ago as a non-religious holiday for African Americans to come together and celebrate their ancestral roots.

"It is an attempt for our community to understand where we come from, where we're going, and how the principles help us to get there," Griffin explained.

There is a lot of symbolism in Kwanzaa, with a typical display featuring seven candles, one lit for each day, fruits and vegetables, an educational gifts.

Elders are honored and children are encouraged to take part.

While Kwanzaa can be a joyous occasion it's also a time for reflection and coming together, which Safia Rashid said is needed now more than ever. The holiday has become a family tradition for her and her husband Kamau, as well as their three children ages nine, 11 and 15.

"This is something where we can all collectively sit and say where we have been, where are we going, and do it as a community," Rashid said.

There will be another Kwanzaa celebration at the DuSable Museum Wednesday, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free to all.
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