Remembering OUR STORY: This Bright Star — KWANZAA — that WE Put In The Sky!

Posted on December 26, 2013 by


December 26, 1966 – First Kwanzaa Season launched in Los Angeles

(Visions & Victories note: A member of the US Organization back in the day shared with us, that Kwanzaa came into being in the wake of a youngster, a “tweener”, a child of one of the members, raising the question: “When are we going to have our own holiday celebration?” That question set the hearts and minds of the membership into collective creative motion, with the Kawaida philosophy of the organization serving as the foundation and context  for their direction, and the emergence of KWANZAA! * * * Our children must not be seen only, but heard as well! * * * Kwanzaa yenu iwe na heri! (May the days of Kwanzaa for you and yours be filled with good fortune and blessings divine!)

“Our children need the sense of specialness that comes from participating in a known and loved ritual. They need the mastery of self-discipline that comes from order. They need the self-awareness that comes from a knowledge of their past. They need Kwanzaa as a tool for building their future and our own.” ~ Jessica B. Harris

Dr. Maulana Karenga on KWANZAA (from a 2000 interview with Beliefnet):

“Kwanzaa does not come from African religions, it comes from African culture. But no serious student of African culture – ancient or modern, continental or diasporan – can deny that African spirituality pervades African life. . .

“What Kwanzaa does stress is the ethical which brings forth the best of African and human thought and practice and offers a basis of common ground. So when Kwanzaa draws on ancient Egyptian teachings from the Husia or teachings of the Yoruba from the Odu Ifa, it is not to teach theology but to urge that we speak truth, do justice, honor our elders and ancestors, cherish and challenge our children, care for the poor and vulnerable among us, have a rightful relationship with the environment, constantly resist evil and always raise up and pursue the good. This ethical focus finds common ground in all religious or spiritual traditions I know. So why would someone be threatened by the stress on bringing and doing good in and for the world?

“ . . . as a celebration of family, community and culture, Kwanzaa is a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them; a time of special reverence for the Creator, in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation; a time of commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of excellence, our ancestors; a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing efforts to be the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense; and a time for the celebration of the Good, the good of life and indeed, of existence, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word, the good of the divine, the social and the natural. Who would find fault with these ethical practices?

“Finally, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be both African and human in its stress on four pillars of African ethics: the dignity and rights of the human person, the well-being and flourishing of family and community, the integrity and value of the environment, and the reciprocal solidarity and cooperation for mutual benefit of humanity. All these above emphases are ethical and at one level spiritual, but belong to no particular religion. And it is their inclusive character that allows people of good will to embrace them as essential elements of common ground for the common good.”

(Visit this link for the full Karenga interview:

“We have religious holidays and we have secular holidays. I see Kwanzaa as an opportunity for African-Americans to reaffirm ourselves if we choose to, a chance to rebuild and renew our focus. I see Kwanzaa as a holiday of the spirit.” ~ Jessica B. Harris