Celebrating Kwanzaa in Gulfport

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Friday night, people gathered to celebrate Umoja or Unity, the first of Kwanzaa's seven principles.

"Unless we stick together, we lose everything.  There has to be something where we have each other's back and pull each other up.  We have to pull each other forward," says Judy Barkum, Founder of the Gulf Coast Kwanzaa celebration.

The seven principles include: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (collective economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), Imani (faith).

"Each principle represents what we can do as a whole for our community. So we have to reach out to the community and bring in various groups," says Stone County resident Olifta Riddick.

"You can't just know the principles and know the rituals.  You must live out those principles every single day," says Barkum.

A community leader who embodied those principles and blazed a trail for others to follow was remembered on this night, Rev. Harry C. Tartt.  Tartt died at the age of 99 earlier this year.

"Rev. Tartt lived out every single day of his life, all the principles of Kwanzaa and what an example he is to us," says Barkum.

Like Tartt, Barkum says everyone should work to carry out the principles, and the work shouldn't just stop after the final candle of Kwanzaa is lit.