Today is the first day of the seven day celebration called Kwanzaa. The holiday was developed by Maulana Karenga (born Ron Everett) in 1966. Kwanzaa celebrates seven principles and uses seven symbols for uniting families and individuals.
Through Kwanzaa principles, if practiced throughout the year, we build strong families and communities. They teach respect for elders and a responsibility to prepare children to lead in the future.
Kwanzaa is not anti-Christmas as some folks would like to have others believe. Toys given to children during Kwanzaa are educational in nature. Kwanzaa purists frown upon the commercialization of the celebration. Most of the people I know that practice Kwanzaa principles also celebrate Christmas.
Some people speak negatively of the holiday because of its creator, Maulana Karenga, who was imprisoned for the torture of two women. Karenga accused the women of attempting to assassinate him but that was never proven.
Kwanzaa is non-religious and non-political. Its positive message overshadows its creator. If the black community practices: Unity; Self-determination; Collective work and responsibility; Cooperative economics; Purpose; Creativity and Faith.
Each day of the seven-day celebration a candle is lit. Each candle represents one of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles). The first day the black candle, in the center, is lit. It represents umoja or unity.