Kwanzaa, the seven day African American cultural celebration is underway. The city of Springfield Massachusetts Friday held its third annual official observance at city hall. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
Leaders of Springfield’s African American community stressed the seven principles that are the foundation of Kwanzaa and the significance of each principle in building a stronger family and city. The audience, which included about 50 young children were encouraged to continue, or in some cases, begin a tradition of celebrating Kwanzaa at home.
The Rev. Talbert Swan, president of the Springfield NAACP chapter preached about the seven principles which are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
The principles are represented by seven candles that are lit during the Kwanzaa ceremony. There is one black candle in the center with three red candles on one side and three green candles on the other side.
A traditional Kwanzaa table was on display at the city hall ceremony. In addition to the candles, the table held a unity cup, a basket of fruit and books.
Seven year old Nathan Stevenson read a poem titled Kwanzaa, by Megan Stoddard.
Traci Whitfield talked about the Kwanzaa principle of creative work and responsibility and its significance in a program she started to highlight the assets of Springfield’s predominately black neighborhoods.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno issued a Kwanzaa proclamation and urged children to carry forward Kwanzaa’s tradition of community building.
Kwanzaa was created in the 1960s by California professor Maulana Karenga. It was designed to connect African American communities through out the world. But each community adds something unique to the observance, according to Kwanzaa historian Ayanna Crawford.
Springfield has had community based Kwanzaa celebrations since the 1980s. The city hall observance Friday was hosted by the Black History Collective, the Renaissance Art Space and the Black Leadership Alliance.