Chicago celebrates start of Kwanzaa

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Wednesday marks the beginning of Kwanzaa, a time of celebration by the African American community. Over the next week, both the past and present will be marked with a series of ceremonies.

Drums sounded the start of the annual Kwanzaa celebration at DuSable Museum. It's a cultural observance that takes place over seven days and is based on African harvest celebrations.

"We are celebrating the black community, we are celebrating our culture, our ancestors and our history," said Erica Griffin with the DuSable Museum.

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

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Organizers say the packed auditorium could be a reflection that more African Americans are embracing Kwanzaa and taking pride in their heritage.

"When not only our communities but our entire country is fractured, having programs and having celebrations like Kwanzaa remind people of the importance of community, of togetherness, of faith," Griffin said.

Each day, a different principle is observed and a candle is lit for each one. The first is unity. The following days highlight self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

The last one being eight-year-old Mary Sharpe's favorite principle. She took part in the program.

"More people should learn about Kwanzaa because you get more knowledge about African Americans and you can study in history online," said Mary Sharpe.

That knowledge is what Shay and Geneva Porter want to pass on to their young daughters.

"The more that we can instill in them knowledge of who they are and where they came from and their history, I think that would be a strong foundation for them as they grow into the future," said Kwanzaa observer Geneva Porter.

If you weren't able to make it today, there is another Kwanzaa celebration at DuSable Museum on Thursday from noon to 2:30 p.m.

DuSable Museum is located at 740 East 56th Place in Washington Park.
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