Learn About Kwanzaa and Cary’s Week-Long Celebration

Cary, NC — Don’t miss the 26th Annual Cary Kwanzaa Celebration this year, presented virtually from December 26-31, 2020.

Cary Kwanzaa is a communal, cultural celebration that honors African-American people and their heritage. The Kwanzaa Celebration is produced by the Town of Cary in partnership with the Morrisville-based non-profit, Ujima Group Inc.

What is Kwanzaa and How is it Celebrated?

Every December 26th, the holiday of Kwanzaa begins and runs seven days, ending on New Years Day. The seven-day celebration of Kwanzaa is derived from a Swahili word meaning, “first fruits of the harvest,” and is a cultural holiday, not a religious holiday.

The origins of African celebrations of harvest go back centuries, but the tradition of Kwanzaa wasn’t started up until 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor in California.

Karenga felt that African-Americans that lived outside the continent of Africa were experiencing a detachment from the values and culture of Africa. Because of this, Kwanzaa was created for them to have something to connect to and make their lives better.

The Seven Principles Represented on the Kinara

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa are represented on a candelobra called a Kinara. There is a single black candle positioned in the center that represents the people, then 3 red candles representing the blood and 3 green candles representing the earth or more specifically, the harvest.

Each day is dedicated to thinking about and honoring 7 different principles collectively called, “Nguzo Saba.” These principles are:

  1. Umoja = Unity
  2. Kujichagalia = Self-determination
  3. Ujima = Collective work & responsibility
  4. Ujamaa = Cooperative economics
  5. Nia = Purpose
  6. Kuumba =  Creativity
  7. Imani = Faith

“Those are seven principles that everybody can use to have a better life. It doesn’t matter if you’re African American, it doesn’t matter where you’re from,” said Dr. Linda Humes, an educator and storyteller.

Humes also said, “These seven principles will help you to be a better human being and will also help to make the world a better place.”

Cary’s Virtual Line Up

If you’re wanting to take part in this year’s local and virtual celebration of Kwanzaa, here’s what’s coming up.

Storyteller Willa Brigham

Willa Brigham, an avid writer of short stories, poetry and songs uses her multiple talents and contagious energy to empower audiences to believe in themselves via spoken word. Willa will be presenting stories that explore the principles of Kwanzaa.

The online video is appropriate for all ages and is available to view between December 26 and January 1.

Watch Mr. SOUL! on The Cary Theater’s Virtual Cinema

Watch with a virtual pass through TheCaryTheater.com

The film MR. SOUL! profiles Ellis Haizlip, the charismatic man behind one of the most culturally significant and successful television shows in U.S. history.

From 1968 to 1973, the public-television variety show SOUL! offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home.

The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and a bevy of great archival clips, Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate.

Kwanzaa Crafts to Enjoy at Home

Check out the links below collected by the Town of Cary for instructions on fun activities you can do at home with your family to celebrate Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa Activities for Kids (from What to Expect)

Kwanzaa Crafts (from Activity Village)

Kwanzaa Activities and Fun Ideas for Kids (from ChildFun)

Kwanzaa Activities for Children (From DLTK’s Crafts for Kids)


Story from staff reports. Photos from the Town of Cary.

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