KwanzaaResources

kwanzaa Candles
Photo Credit: Kwanzaa Guide
kwanzaa Yenu Iwe Na Heri

Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt

KWANZAA HISTORY

Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.

This year we will focus on proverbs new and old.

Proverbs are the distilled genius of cultures. They identify and dignify a culture, bringing life into wisdom and wisdom into life. The purpose of African proverbs, just like any others, is to give people a sense of what’s right and wrong and teach them how to behave in a society. Proverbs have many uses in African societies. They may express an eternal truth. They may be a warning against foolish acts or a guide to good conduct. They may also bring special meaning to certain situations and may even solve particular problems. All of them, share common ground because they are here to teach us the same values and to help us have judgment. Even though some proverbs might seem as though they have absolutely nothing in common, in the end, they are all trying to achieve the aforementioned purpose. Both the “individual psychology” and the “community” code of conduct talk about how individuals or groups should act toward each other are expressed in proverbs. African proverbs express the wisdom of the African people and are a key to understanding the ways of life in the past, present and future.

Note: Each of the seven principles, is accompanied by a proverb and its explanation. It is paired with a short documentary related to the principle and proverb. It is our hope that the film will spark conversation at your gathering.

kwanzaa Umoja

Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt

Unity : Umoja (oo–MO–jah)

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Proverb: There is strength in unity, but weakness in division.
Proverb Explanation: Unity is strength, division is weakness.

Massacre at Murambi

05:10 min | Documentary | Director: Sam Kauffmann | Producer: Sam Kauffmann
During the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, a newly built secondary school on a hill named Murambi was the site of one of the world’s most horrifying mass murders. This film informs us about the events that took place at Murambi and explores the link between Rwanda and Darfur, Sudan.

kwannzaa Kujichagulia

Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt

Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Proverb: If you borrow someone’s legs, you will go where they direct you.
Proverb Explanation: If one is too heavily indebted to someone, one will lose one’s independence.

What Does It Mean To Be An African American Woman Who Loves Hip Hop?
8:01 min | Documentary | Directed By Briana Noble & Free Spirit Media |
Exploring the hip-hop community through the lens of an African-American woman.

 

kwanzaa Ujima

Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt

Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)

To build and maintain our community together and make our sibling’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Proverb: A bundle cannot be fastened with one hand.
Proverb Explanation: No person is completely self-sufficient. We have need of each other.

I Am Sean Bell
10:36 min | Documentary | Director: Stacey Muhammad | Producer: Stacey Muhammad
When I chose to do the Sean Bell film, I was extremely disturbed by the verdict and wanted to hear from the children, particularly young black boys, about their thoughts, fears and concerns regarding violence against black men. Most of the topics that interest me are those that give a voice to those often unheard populations of people, who indeed have stories to tell and victories to celebrate.

kwanzaa Ujamaa

Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt

Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)

To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Proverb: A bird builds with the feathers of others.
Proverb Explanation: No one can be totally self-sufficient.

A Loud Color

6:34 min | Documentary | Director: Brent Joseph | Producer: Brent Joseph

This film follows Louis Harding as he rebuilds the community center he opened just one month before Hurricane Katrina hit and destroyed his work. Despite the setback, 72-year-old Harding refuses to give up on his mission to combat poverty in New Orleans. He discusses the importance of history, heroes and self-esteem in the black community and explains why making his dream a reality is more important now than ever before.

kwanzaa Nia

Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt

Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)

To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Proverb: The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.
Proverb Explanation: The destruction of the community nation starts in the home. Therefore, develop strong and productive families.

A Girl Like Me by Kiri Davis

07:08 min | Youth Documentary | Director: Kiri Davis | Producer: Reel Works Teen Filmmaking

Color is more than skin deep for young African-American women struggling to define themselves. Kiri explores the way racial stereotypes influence the self-image of African American young women and children. Davis interviews teenage black women about their experience with racialized standards of beauty, and replicates the Kenneth Clark Doll Test, to show how black girls and boys to this day associate whiteness with beauty and virtue and blackness with ugliness and vice. Running Time 7:15 minutes

kwansaa Kuumba

Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt

Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)

To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Proverb: To stumble is not to fall, but to go forward faster.
Proverb Explanation: Mistakes are a part of the learning and creative process. If you learn from your mistakes, you will achieve at a faster pace.

The Apollos

06:00 min | Documentary | Director: Nick Parker, Jazmin Jones | Producer: Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC)

The Apollos is about the struggle of a high school senior class to pass a bill making Martin Luther King’s birthday a nationally recognized holiday. The idea behind The Apollos came from us wanting to increase youth involvement in social issues, so we decided to use a powerful example. By combining the different interviews into one powerful story we created a non-traditional hybrid interview style to show the union of new and old ideas working towards the same goal. Hopefully today’s youth will learn from The Apollos and flex that metaphoric bicep in today’s adult run society. We want youth around the world to know they too are world citizens and have a voice. USE IT!

kwanzaa Imani

Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt

Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)

To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Proverb: Hope is the pillar of the world.
Proverb Explanation: Hope is a stronghold in a world of fluctuating circumstances.

Still Standing

07:44 min | Documentary | Producer: The Educational Video Center’s Youth Organizers Television (YO-TV) Program

Still Standing is an intimate portrayal of the challenges faced by Hurricane Katrina survivors six months after the storm. Ms. Gertrude, a determined New Orleans homeowner and grandmother, travels regularly from temporary housing in Houston, TX to what remains of her home. Caught in the midst of a real-estate frenzy without insurance money or federal assistance, Ms. Gertrude fights for the right to rebuild. Her story reveals familiar issues in urban American communities: the neglect of poor and minority neighborhoods, the inadequacy of public assistance to provide long-term solutions, and the struggles necessary to make positive change.

kwanzaa candle graphic
Photo Credit: Our Heritage Magazine

Kwanzaa Nguzo Saba
Photo Credit: Dickson University

The Symbols of Kwanzaa: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/symbols.shtml
Greetings, Gifts, Decorations: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/greetings_and.shtml

kwanzaa Symbols
Photo Credit: ourthings

The Celebration: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/celebrating.shtml
The Day of Meditation: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/meditation.shtml
FAQ’s: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/faq.shtml
Kwanzaa crafts: http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/kwanzaa-crafts

Download Icon 2014 Kwanzaa Bingo (Adobe PDF)
(Updated: 14 December 2017)

Download Icon 2014 Kwanzaa Coloring book (Adobe PDF)
(Updated: 14 December 2017)

It Is Never To Late To Begin Again: An adaptation of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Speech, How Long? Not Long!

Worship Celebration

A Kwanzaa / Black History Service – Rev. Vickey Gibbs

“How Long, Not Long” is the popular name given to the public speech delivered by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after the successful completion of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 25, 1965.

 

Reader One: My dear and abiding friends  and to all of the distinguished Americans seated here on the rostrum, and to all of the freedom-loving people who have assembled here and those assembling all over our nation and all over the world. Fifty years ago, more than eighteen million of us started on a mighty walk. We have walked through desolate valleys and across the trying hills. We have walked on meandering highways and rested our bodies on rocky byways. Some of our faces are burned from the outpourings of the sweltering sun. Some have literally slept in the mud. We have been drenched by the rains. Our bodies are tired and our feet are somewhat sore.

All: How long? Not long!

Reader Two: But today as I stand before you and think back over that great march, I can say, as Sister Pollard said—a seventy-year-old Negro woman who lived in during the bus boycott — and one day, was asked while walking if she didn’t want to ride. And when she answered, “No,” the person said, “Well, aren’t you tired?” And with her ungrammatical profundity, she said, “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.” (Yes, sir. All right) And in a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, (Yes, sir) but our souls are rested.

All:  My feets is tired, but my soul cannot yet rest!

Reader Two: They told us we wouldn’t get there. And there were those who said that we would get there only over their dead bodies, and  all the world today knows that we are not there yet as we still stand before the forces of power saying,

All: “We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around!”

Reader Three: Now it is not an accident that one of the great marches of American history terminate in Montgomery, Alabama. As in 1955, in that very city, a new philosophy was born of the Negro struggle. Montgomery was the first city in the South in which the entire Negro community united and squarely faced its age-old oppressors.  Out of this struggle, more than bus [de]segregation was won; a new idea, more powerful than guns or clubs or official oppression was born. Negroes took it and carried it across the South in epic battles that electrified the nation and the world.

All: We shall overcome!

Reader Four: Yet, strangely, the initial climactic conflicts always were fought and won on Alabama soil. After Montgomery’s, heroic confrontations loomed up in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, now Missouri, Florida, New York and elsewhere. But not until the colossus of segregation was challenged in Birmingham did the conscience of America begin to bleed. White America was profoundly aroused by Birmingham because it witnessed the whole community of Negroes facing terror and brutality with majestic scorn and heroic courage. Today that same conscience of America must bleed again as we face new waves of oppression. May the wells of that democratic spirit arise anew, such that the nation finally forces Congress to write legislation in the hope that it would eradicate the stain of injustice through wrought through official oppression by our militarized police forces, mandatory minimum are eradicated, stand your ground laws are repealed, the school to prison pipeline is dismantled and congressional gerrymandering is no more. Yes, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, but without these injustices addressed.

All:  It is dignity without strength.

Reader Five: Once more it is time for the community to mobilize and unsheathe from its scabbard, the weapon of nonviolence resistance, to confront the adversary. And again the brutality of a dying order shrieks across the land. As Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of a nation, may Staten Island, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio and Miami Gardens, Florida. If the worst in American life lurked in these dark streets, the best of American instincts must arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it. This is the moment in American history for all honorable and more inspiring clergy and laity of every race and faith pouring into than the pilgrimage of Selma to face danger (Yes) at the side of its embattled Negroes.

All: The confrontation of good and evil compressed in the tiny community of Selma generated the massive power to turn the whole nation to a new course. The confrontation of good and evil in Florida, Missouri, New York, Australia, Brazil, the United kingdom can again generate the power necessary to turn the whole world towards a new course.

 

Reader Six: On our part we must pay our profound respect to our allies, white Americans,  who cherish their democratic traditions over the ugly customs and privileges of generations and come forth boldly to join hands with us.  Racial segregation as a way of life did not come about as a natural result of hatred between the races immediately after the Civil War. There were no laws segregating the races then. And as the noted historian, C. Vann Woodward, in his book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, clearly pointed out then and Michelle Alexander in her book, The New Jim Crow, the segregation of the races was really a political stratagem employed to keep the southern masses divided and southern labor the cheapest in the land. You see, it was a simple thing to keep the poor white masses working for near-starvation wages in the years that followed the Civil War. Why, if the poor white plantation or mill worker became dissatisfied with his low wages, the plantation or mill owner would merely threaten to fire him and hire former Negro slaves and pay him even less. Thus, the southern wage level was kept almost unbearably low. Yet toward the end of the Reconstruction era, something very significant happened. That is what was known as the Populist Movement.

All: Jim Crow still lives

Reader Seven:  The leaders of this movement began awakening the poor white masses and the former Negro slaves to the fact that they were being fleeced by the emerging corporate interests. Not only that, but they began uniting the Negro and white masses into a voting bloc that threatened to drive the corporate interests from the command posts of political power in the South. To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy and capitalists began immediately to engineer the development of a segregated society.

All: Jim Crow still lives.

Reader Eight: I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.

All: Let us pledge to revive the Movement and end Jim Crow forever!

Reader Nine: If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. He gave him Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was at least he was a white man, better than the black man. And he ate Jim Crow. And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, their last outpost of psychological oblivion.

All: How long O Lord, how long?

Reader Ten: Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; they segregated southern churches from Christianity; they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; and they segregated the Negro from everything. That’s what happened when the Negro and white masses of the South threatened to unite and build a great society: a society of justice where none would pray upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality.

All: We shall unite, we shall overcome!

Reader Ten: We’ve come a long way since that travesty of justice was perpetrated upon the American mind. James Weldon Johnson put it eloquently. He said:

Congregational Song:  Lift Every Voice and Sing

Reader One: Today I want to tell the city of Selma, today I want to say to the state of Alabama, today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now and no wave of racism can stop us. We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. We are on the move now. The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now. The wanton release of their known murderers would not discourage us. We are on the move now. Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom and justice.

All: We are moving, we are marching!

Reader Two: Let us therefore continue our triumphant march to the realization of the American dream. Let us march on segregated housing until every ghetto or social and economic depression dissolves, and we ALL live side by side in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Let us march on segregated schools until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past, and we ALL study side-by-side in the socially-healing context of the classroom.

All: Let us march!

Reader Three: Let us march on poverty until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. March on poverty until no starved man walks the streets of our cities and towns in search of jobs that do not exist. Let us march on poverty until wrinkled stomachs in Mississippi are filled, and the idle industries of Appalachia are realized and revitalized, and broken lives in sweltering ghettos are mended and remolded. Let us march on ballot boxes, march on ballot boxes until race-baiters disappear from the political arena. Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of gerrymandering will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. Let us march on ballot boxes until the Wallaces’ of our nation tremble away in silence. Let us march on ballot boxes until we send to our city councils, state legislatures, and the United States Congress, people who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

All: Let us march!

Reader Four: Let us march on ballot boxes until community becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda. Let us march on ballot boxes until all over the world God’s children will be able to walk the earth in decency and honor. There is nothing wrong with marching in this sense. The Bible tells us that the mighty men of Joshua merely walked about the walled city of Jericho and the barriers to freedom came tumbling down. I like that old Negro spiritual, “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” In its simple, yet colorful, depiction of that great moment in biblical history, it tells us that:

Congregational Song: Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho

Reader Five: These words I have given you just as they were given us by the unknown, long-dead, dark-skinned originator. Some now long-gone black bard bequeathed to posterity these words in ungrammatical form, yet with emphatic pertinence for all of us today. The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going. Let us now add to this list the names of all those who have fought and, yes, died in the nonviolent army of our day and through stand your ground laws and police brutality: Medgar Evers, three civil rights workers in Mississippi last summer,  William Moore, the Reverend James Reeb, Jimmy Lee Jackson, and four little girls in the church of God in Birmingham on Sunday morning, Travon Martin, Micahel Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice  (Pause for names to be added and the names are scrolled on screen from the Stolen Lives Project)  Yet in spite of this, we must go on and be sure that they did not die in vain. The pattern of their feet as they walked through Jim Crow barriers in the great stride toward freedom is the thunder of the marching at Jericho, and the world rocks beneath their tread.

All: We must keep marching!

Reader Six: My people, my people, listen. The battle is in our hands. The battle is in our hands in Mississippi and Alabama and all over the United States and around the world. I know there is a cry today When will we be allowed to  return to normalcy?”  I have a message that I would like to leave this evening. That is exactly what we don’t want, and we will not allow it to happen, for we know that it was normalcy in Marion that led to the brutal murder of Jimmy Lee Jackson.  It was normalcy in Birmingham that led to the murder on Sunday morning of four beautiful, unoffending, innocent girls. It was normalcy on Highway 80 that led state troopers to use tear gas and horses and billy clubs against unarmed human beings who were simply marching for justice. It was normalcy by a cafe in Selma, Alabama, that led to the brutal beating of Reverend James Reeb. It was normalcy that allowed for the Stand Your Ground to be used to justify the deaths of Travon Martin and  Sherdavia Jenkins and  Daniel Amore. It was normalcy for the police to brutalize Keyarika Diggles and  Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas. It was normalcy that led to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

All: The battle is in our hands..

Reader Seven: It is normalcy all over our country which leaves the people of color perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of vast ocean of material prosperity. It is normalcy for voter ID laws to prevent people of color from voting. No, we must not allow a return to normalcy. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of siblinghood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.

All:  No, we must not allow a return to normalcy.

Reader Eight: And so as we go away this afternoon, let us go away more than ever before committed to this struggle and committed to nonviolence. I must admit to you that there are still some difficult days ahead. We are still in for a season of suffering in many of the black belt. I must admit to you that there are still jail cells waiting for us, and stark and difficult moments. But if we will go on with the faith that nonviolence and its power can transform bleak yesterdays into bright tomorrows, we will be able to change all of these conditions. And so I plead with you, as we move ahead: remain committed to nonviolence. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate, but to win understanding and justice. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of white or brown or black. That will be the day of humanity as humanity.

All: We are committed to the struggle!

Reader Nine: I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, confuse their understanding, and drive wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets and in communities all over the world, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of humanity?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it?”

All: Yes, how long O Lord, how long?

Reader Ten: I come to say to you, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long   because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.”  How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.” How long? Not long, because “you shall reap what you sow.” How long? Not long: truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above thine own.

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

How long? Not long, because:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

God is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

God has loosed the fateful lightning of the terrible swift sword;

God’s truth is marching on.

You have sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;

You are sifting out the hearts of all before Your judgment seat.

O, be swift, my soul, to answer ! Be jubilant my feet!

Our God is marching on.

Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!

Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!

God’s truth is marching on.

 

Congregational Song: Glory Glory Hallelujah!