Since 1989, the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association has celebrated Kwanzaa. We grew from celebrating in the living room of an apartment in South Miami with a kinara drawn on a poster board to the largest celebration in the Miami area.
In 1999 we were honored to have Tavis Smiley as our special guest. At least 500 people packed the meeting room at the Joseph Caleb Center to hear Smiley, enjoy the entertainment and feast on American soul food, Caribbean delicacies and African entrees. The next year, our event expanded to include the Caleb Center auditorium for the main performances and the meeting room for more performances and the feast.
The event has always been free to the public with members of our organization providing the karamu (feast) and various musicians and drummers sharing their talent gratis. Through Miami-Dade County, the facility, security and custodial services were provided at no charge to the organization.
Unfortunately, this year, we will not celebrate Kwanzaa because support from Miami-Dade County has been reduced tremendously. That is most disheartening because practicing the principles of Kwanzaa is exactly what the black community needs. Sometimes it appears as though those in responsible positions of government and other influential positions want the people to remain un-enlightened and un-conscious.
Even when other local organizations received assistance to present the Kwanzaa celebration and make money from vendor booths, members of our organization continued to provide in the true spirit of Kwanzaa.
The Kwanzaa Celebration provided an opportunity for family and friends to celebrate together, in spite of religious and perhaps political differences. Kwanzaa principles reinforce individual pride and pride in the community. It also promotes support of businesses in the community as well as appreciation for the artistically gifted among us.
Most important is Kwanzaa's foundation of non-commercialism and lessons of faith and responsibility to children and respect for elders.
Several people in the community have contacted us about the event this year and we've had to share the bad news of our forced break this year but our intent on enlarging our circle of support for 2008.