South Mississippians Prepare To Observe Kwanzaa - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/05/04

South Mississippians Prepare To Observe Kwanzaa

While some celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, for others the holiday season means empowerment.

Kwanzaa is a non religious festival that promotes principles like unity, faith, and self determination.

It was started in the 60s as a way to empower the Black community.

Now some people say it might take a younger generation to re-energize this old tradition.

Judy Whitfield has spent more than a decade organizing community events hoping to spark people's interest in Kwanzaa.

She recently wrote a children's book that illustrates that part of African American heritage.

"So much of Kwanzaa is based around who's shoulders are we standing on and who are the people that came before us," said Whitfield.

"If young people would just start asking those questions as Mom is cooking dinner it's starts the idea rolling," she added.

The Pleasant Reed house was built in 1887 by Pleasant Reed.

Museum curator Dora Faison says there are many parallels between the life of Pleasant Reed and the principles of Kwanzaa.

Reed, a former slave, was able to build a better life for himself because of his determination and faith.

"To me it's so important that young people understand the principles of Kwanzaa and understand the life of Pleasant Reed," said Faison.

"Connect it together and hopefully they will take it back to their parents and decided they'd like to start having a Kwanzaa celebration in their homes," Faison added.

This weekend the Pleasant Reed House hosted its first Kwanzaa workshop in addition to offering classes on genealogy.

"I want "people to know that it's so important to search for your family roots so we're just doing a little bit at a time trying to put things out there," said Faison.

Kwanzaa is Swahili for first fruit of the harvest.

It begins December 26th and continues through January first.

On December 26th there will be a community Kwanzaa at the Good Deeds Center in Gulfport at 6 p.m.

By Danielle Thomas

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