Kwanzaa focus to remember past while building better future

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's a time of reflection on the past and a time to commit to building a better future. Thursday night at the Good Deeds Center in Gulfport the community celebrated the first night of Kwanzaa.

Gaston Point. Handsboro.Turkey Creek. Every year Michael and Tabari Daniels talk to the elders in a predominantly black community to learn about its history. Then the brothers put on a skit to teach that history to the children in those neighborhoods.

Michael Daniels said many children "live in Gaston Point or live in these neighborhoods and don't know their families and their ancestors were around doing certain things and helped give them the opportunity to do what they're doing today."

At the 21st annual Gulf Coast Kwanzaa celebration the focus was on encouraging more people to take an interest in building better stronger communities.

"Take an assessment and say what can I do to make this world a better place," said Judy Lombard-Barkum. "That's what this is. It's a time of rejoicing, reflecting, it's a time of sharing the stories, of remember where we came from. It's a joyous time. It gives us an opportunity to reflect. What have I given to the world in this time of year? And if I haven't lived up, measured up what can I do better next year. How can I make the world a better place?"

Along with the special performances, it was also a time to thank those who are already making a difference. Jeremiah Mormon received the Harry C. Tart award for his mentorship of young men  in Kappa League, a fraternal organization to help keep them on the right track.

"There's a lot at stake here with these young people and their success," said Mormon. "We have a lot benefit from and if they go astray it's only going to hurt us in the long run so we need to get involved and try to deter them from making bad choices bad decisions."

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

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