Kwanzaa holiday kicks off today

December 26, 2008 7:32:14 AM PST
Today is the official start of Kwanzaa.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The seven-day long holiday is a celebration of African-American culture and history. Each day focuses on one of seven principles. Today's principle is Umoja or unity, where you're asked to strive for unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Kwanzaa is the creation of Maulana Karenga. He's the former director of black studies at California State University, Long Beach. Kwanzaa means "first fruits" in Swahili.

The holiday recalls the customs and values of African harvests. Created in 1966, the seven-day celebration encourages Americans of African descent to focus each day on a different principle of progress.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa, in their order of celebration are: unity, self-determination, work done with the assistance of neighbors, family and society, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Each night a candle is lit to mark the principle for that day.

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Greater Houston Area Kwanzaa Planning Committee -- Calendar of Kwanzaa Events & Programs

Umoja: Unity -- December 26th (First Day of Kwanzaa)

The Greater Houston Area Kwanzaa Planning Committee Presents: "Black Light": Unity Burning Bright: A Hip Hop Tribute to Kwanza expressed through music, song, drama & dance by some of Houston's finest entertainers! Featuring special guest appearances by Tre and Rob G. Keynote address by M1 of Dead Prez, Friday, December 26th @ the Historic Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main St. @ 7pm. Free Admission. For more information call: (832) 894-5015

Kujichagulia: Self-Determination Dec. 27th (Second Day of Kwanzaa) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves. SHAPE Community Center and I.N.C.E.R.T. (the Inner City Emergency Response Team) will host Kwanzaa @ SHAPE Center, 3903 Almeda, @ 7pm. Vending from 5-7pm. Free. For more information call: (832) 245-7642

Kuumba House Dance Theatre presents "The Spirit of Kwanzaa" featuring the Kuumba House Dance Theatre, @ 7:30pm at the Children's Museum, 1500 Binz St. For more information call: (713) 521-1079 or online at www.kuumbahouse.org.

Nia Cultural Center @ Old Central Cultural Center, 2627 Ave. M in Galveston, TX, from 4-7pm. Free. For more information call: (713) 521-0641 maintain your community together. To work together to help one another within our community.

An African Ball hosted by Afrikans Committed to Liberation @ the Heritage Room, 4810 Yale. Free. For more information call: (713) 206-9969.

Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics Dec. 29th (Fourth Day of Kwanzaa) To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. Children's Kwanzaa Activities at the Blue Triangle YMCA, 3005 McGowen, from 10am ? 1pm. Free. For more information call: (713) 504-0018

Three Sisters in the Spirit present African Storytelling, 3205 Bostic 10am-12pm. Free.

A town hall meeting and panel discussion on the state of the black economy; hosted the National Black United Front @ 7pm at SHAPE Community Center, 3815 Live Oak. Free. For more information call: (832)978-8504.

Nia: Purpose Dec. 30th (5th Day of Kwanzaa) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community; in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Children's kwanzaa hosted by Project Row Houses, Dupree Park, 3800 Dowling from 1-4pm. Free. For more information call: (832) 894-7758.

SEHAH Youth & Fitness Center host's kwanzaa @ 5110 MLK @ 7pm. Free. For more information call: (713)747-0271.

Kuumba: Creativity Dec. 31st (6th Day of Kwanzaa) Using creativity and imagination to make your communities better than what you inherited.

SHAPE Community Center host's kwanzaa @ 3815 Live Oak. Vending begins @ 6pm. Free. For more information call: (713) 521-0641.

Imani: Faith Jan. 1st (7th Day of Kwanzaa) Believing in our people, our families, our educators, our leaders, ourselves and the righteousness of the African American struggle. Shrine of the Black Madonna, 5309 MLK, program and market begin @ 7pm. Free. For more information call: (713) 645-1071.

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