Kwanzaa kicks off with celebration at MS Civil Rights Museum

Kwanzaa coincides with the African Harvest Festivals.

Kwanzaa kicks off with celebration at MS Civil Rights Museum
Gryot was one of seven community leaders honored.

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Kwanzaa began today, December 26th. The holiday is celebrated by millions throughout the African-American community and beyond.

There was music, dancing, and poetry at this year’s Kwanzaa Celebration at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Gryot was one of seven community leaders honored today
Gryot was one of seven community leaders honored today

“Kwanzaa is for everybody,” says museum director Pamela Junior.

“It’s not just for one culture. Learning the purpose, learning the principles.”

Dr. Ebony Lumumba, the wife of Jackson’s mayor, had the honor of lighting the first candle.

First lady, Dr. Ebony Lumumba lights the first candle.
First lady, Dr. Ebony Lumumba lights the first candle.

Kwanzaa, created in 1966, coincides with the year-end festivals that have taken place in Africa for thousands of years.

Over 18 million African-Americans observe the five day celebration, which is not a religious holiday.

“Our knowledge of our history is how we build and grow and that’s why we have Kwanzaa because it’s not even just about our history it’s about where are we going and that’s why it’s significant that we’re at the Civil Rights Museum,” Junior continued.

Each year, Women For Progress honor members of the community who embody the 7 principals of Kwanzaa.

Those principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Angela Stewart organized the event. “The first principle is Emoja so when you think about unity and community and the work that the civil rights movement did to bring people together it was fitting to have this program here,” she said.

Tonight's honorees: Isaac Byrd an attorney and political consultant in Jackson for over 40 years and Dorothy Stewart Samuel, the founding member of Women For Progress.

“They were determined to make sure that African Americans, not only knew about their culture but were proud of their culture,” said Stewart.

Participant lights the last candle.
Participant lights the last candle.

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