GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - On the second night of Kwanzaa, folks gathered at the Good Deeds Community Center in Gulfport to celebrate the seven-day holiday highlighting African American heritage. Each night a different principle is highlighted. Tuesday's principle was Kujichagulia, or self-determination.
"It is the night that we remember that we have to name ourselves. We have to claim ourselves. And decide what our own destiny's gonna be and not be named and directed by other people," said Judy Barkum, Founder of the Gulf Coast Kwanzaa Coalition.
Actors portrayed "The Black journey" to show both young and older audiences the struggles and determination of their ancestors.
"Things didn't just arrive. There was struggle, there was love, there was all kinds of things. So I think it's very important for the young people to see that, to have some sense of purpose. You don't need someone to define who you are to be comfortable in your own skin," said Mike Daniels with the
Gulf Coast Kwanzaa Coalition.
"We just wanted to try to get people to try to wear some of the African fashions. The head wraps, the dashikis, just the different fabrics. So children who might not necessarily see it can see what they would wear back then," said Amelia Cooper with Gulf Coast Kwanzaa Coalition.
Each night a candle is lit representing a different principle of Kwanzaa.
"The first night you light the black candle, which stands for unity. And then you switch and you go to a red candle. which would be for Kujichagulia. So every night you're lighting a candle with the representation," said Barkum.
Fruit represents the fruit of their labor. Corn represents children, the seed for the future. And the kinara holding the candles sits on top of a mat and represents standing on the foundation of their ancestors. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa.
Dr. Maulana Karinga started Kwanzaa in 1966 during a time in our country when desegregation was taking effect. His concern was that African Americans would start to forget the values and principles of their culture. That's why he started the holiday that reflects on African American heritage.