“The future of Kwanzaa is in the hands, hearts and minds of African people. It is they who are responsible for its rapid growth and wide-reaching impact. And thus, I am confident that Africans will protect this miracle they’ve created, be rightfully attentive to its integrity, well-being and wholeness, and insist on respect for it in every venue it’s practiced and presented.”
~Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa Founder
Author, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture
No Kwanzaa Events During Kwanzaa In African American Museum, Why?
Kwanzaa is a public celebration and there should be a public celebration at the museum during Kwanzaa. The museum does not have ANY public events during the week of Kwanzaa on the museum schedule, see at: https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming . Why not support our cultural holiday in “our” cultural museum? The museum is open all seven days of Kwanzaa (December 26th - January 1st), why can’t they choose one day?
After Kwanzaa Now Campaign representatives meeting with the museum management in the month of May, we were hopeful the museum would host its’ first Kwanzaa event during Kwanzaa. They informed us no Kwanzaa events has been held since the museum open in September 2016 (see the meeting report below). That was surprising because several other Smithsonian museums have a long history hosting Kwanzaa events. They agreed in the meeting to partner with us to promote Kwanzaa this year (a few month later they called their agreement a “misunderstanding”).
We waited to hear from them, as they requested. After two months waiting, we wrote them: “We are grateful you agreed to partner with us around promoting and celebrating Kwanzaa this year; however it was disappointing not to reach an agreement on an exhibit. Our meeting ended with you promising to be in touch regarding ways the museum can participate in a partnership. Not hearing from you since our meeting, we would like to suggest a few ways NMAAHC can help us promote and celebrate Kwanzaa 2019. We propose the museum: 1. Host Kwanzaa’s founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga, for a lecture and workshop during Kwanzaa; 2. Place a Kwanzaa set and decorations in the entrance main lobby during Kwanzaa and 3. add quality Kwanzaa products in the gift shop.
A NMAAHC Kwanzaa celebration would be an excellent historical and cultural milestone event, and should include Kwanzaa’s founder. The Kwanzaa Now Campaign has taken the liberty to contact Dr. Karenga to confirm his willingness to participate and he has agreed. …. we have members that will gladly donate Kwanzaa decorations and assist with decorating. We can also provide a list of quality Kwanzaa products and vendors.”
Our letter was copied to Mr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian, and Mr. Spencer Crew, NMAAHC Interim Director. They did not address our recommendations in their reply. Instead they said: “… we regret that during our conversation in May there may have been a misunderstanding about a partnership to mount a Kwanzaa program. Our 2019 schedule is full, and all programs are arranged by our Public Program Officer.”
They have stated on several occasions “the Museum recognizes the significance of Kwanzaa as an important African American holiday.” However, their actions speak louder than their words.
Again, why is the museum taking this position on Kwanzaa?
Click to download Letters in full PDF:
1. Kwanzaa Now Campaign Letter of 2019 Kwanzaa Recommendations
Kwanzaa Now Campaign Representatives & Museum Senior Curators Meeting:
National Museum of African American History and Culture invited the Kwanzaa Now Campaign leadership to a meeting to discuss the campaign concerns.
For details read: KNC Public Report Back On May 15, 2019 Museum Meeting
For the best understanding and practice of Kwanzaa read: Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture by Dr. Maulana Karenga.
Annual Founder’s Kwanzaa Message - 2019
“Living Kwanzaa and the Seven Principles: An All-Seasons Celebration and Practice of the Good”
Dr. Maulana Karenga
Symbols And Insights Of Kwanzaa: Deep Meanings And Expansive Message
Righteous Reflection On Being African: A Kwanzaa Meditation
Kwanzaa History Outlined
by Wautella ibn Yusuf
This is a brief outline of the birth and maturation of the African American holiday Kwanzaa in two parts: 1. Kwanzaa History Summary (Kwanzaa development and spread in popularity), and 2. Kwanzaa History Table (a chart listing practitioners and promoters by year, organization, leaders, and location). This information is summarized from my research notes, conversations with elder Kwanzaa practitioners, and personal interpretation. It is not a detailed history of Kwanzaa and does not claim to be. I apologize in advance for any errors or omissions. Please help improve the outline by providing feedback on missing data or corrections.
Much honor and appreciation must be given to Dr. Maulana Karenga for consciously creating Kwanzaa as a practice of liberation and cultural enrichment. After creating Kwanzaa, he has been foremost in promoting and developing its practice through annual national and international Kwanzaa lectures and workshops; plus, his innumerable Kwanzaa articles and interviews. In 1996 Dr. Karenga published the definitive text for the holiday practice and interpretation: “Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture”
Furthermore, we wish to acknowledge and praise the many pioneering Kwanzaa builders, individuals and groups that made great sacrifices to establish the international holiday.
Click to download PDF documents:
DC Strong Kwanzaa History
DC is one of the earliest cities to create a strong Kwanzaa practice that helped build the holiday and spread it to other cities. We share a long and proud Kwanzaa history in Washington, DC.
Only two years after Kwanzaa was first introduced in Los Angeles, our city held two public Kwanzaa events! Mama Nia Kuumba, Black Cultural Activist, and Brother Melvin Deal, Professional African Dancer and Teacher, held separate public Kwanzaa events in 1968 (many others may have held Kwanzaa in their homes).
We give praise and honor to DC Kwanzaa builders that are ancestors now, such as, Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango (Temple of Black Messiah, founder), Baba Orafo (Black Nationalist and Activist), Baba Ngoma (Master Drummer and Teacher), Baba Kwame Afao (Black Nationalist and Cultural Warrior) and Nana Kwame Agyei Akoto ( scholar, musician, and institution builder). There are many people that helped develop and establish DC's powerful Kwanzaa practice that could/should be named, hopefully in the future a detailed history of DC Kwanzaa builders will be written.
There were African rooted institutions that also contributed greatly to establishing the holiday, such as: The African Heritage Dancers & Drummers, Ujamaa Shule, Union Temple Baptist Church, United Black Community, NationHouse Watoto Shule, Roots Activity Learning Center, Imani Temple and others.
Perhaps, no one has done a better job of building and maintaining DC Kwanzaa than the United Black Community/DC Kwanzaa Planning Committee over the past 42 years, by organizing Kwanzaa events, issuing a calendar of Kwanzaa activities and businesses supporting the holiday.