Candle lighting ceremony begins week-long Kwanzaa celebrations

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Wednesday, December 26 is the first day of Kwanzaa. The 7-day long celebration of history and culture is designed to bring people together. To mark the occasion, people gathered for a candle lighting at Bridge Street.

Khadijia Mbacke, organized the candle lighting ceremony. Although being at Bridge Street is new, this is her sixth year hosting a Kwanzaa celebration in Huntsville. She hopes to educate others about the holiday

“I want to dispel the myth how Kwanzaa is used to take the place of Christmas. It is actually a separate man-made holiday to lift the spirits of African American people born in America and abroad, to make them feel good about themselves and the seven principles that are to be used by all people, all year round,” says Mbacke.

She says the holiday is a celebration of the seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, and faith.

“When Maulana Karenga started in 1966, his purpose was to lift the self-esteem of African people born here who are going through some trials and tribulations. As he went on with these celebrations, he realized other people relate to these other things African people have been going through and they wanted to join in on the celebration,” says Mbacke.

At Bridge Street, people of all ages stopped to celebrate.

“When I asked those young ladies to come up, she and her girls were the first ones to come up. She endured the longest, she wouldn’t leave. She continued to celebrate. That’s the kind of love we want people to start showing for each other. That unity”

Mbacke says Kwanzaa is about more than presents. It’s about bettering yourself year-round through practicing the seven principles and celebrating that growth.

“It’s called giving back. It’s a win-win.”

The 6th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration will be held at the Richard Showers Center on Friday, December 28 from 2 to 7 p.m.

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