Omaha’s Kwanzaa kicks off with somber message


December 27th, 2010

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Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Myers demonstrates a Kwanzaa ritual where she lights a candle in the Kinara (Photo courtesy Christopher Myers, Wikimedia Commons)

Omaha, NE – Many African Americans across America are celebrating Kwanzaa this month. Locally, the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation kicked off their Kwanzaa celebration Dec. 27, but this year, the group presented a less celebratory program.

Kwanzaa dates back to the mid-1960s. The word “Kwanzaa” literally means “first fruit of the harvest” in Swahili. This holiday is traditionally celebrated by African Americans with a week of event including candle lighting, libations, feasts and gift giving. Carlos Carr is a board member of the Malcolm X Foundation. This year, Carr said, local author Walter Brooks will present a lecture about his manuscript titled Trust No Shadows After Dark: African American Genocide in America.

“Normally what I do is more of a celebration,” Carr said. “This time we’re actually doing a program, and the difference between the two is that the program is designed to inform our community on very important information about African Americans in this country.”

Carr said the manuscript discusses issues with the education system, prison system and the lack of supportive social networks for African Americans.

“I think the African American community across the nation needs to look at this material,” he said, “and see what’s going on within our communities and why we’re not seeing so much destruction and not the opposite. We’re not seeing construction and growth… in the black community, and that is for every major city that has a large black community…and there has to be a reason for that, and it’s not because African American people are lazy.”

The Kwanzaa kick off was held Dec. 27th at the Malcolm X Foundation’s new headquarters, directly across from the Malcolm X birth site in North Omaha. Kwanzaa runs through Jan 1.

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