THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES
For every day of Kwanzaa, a candle is lighted to represent one of seven communal values. These are (with their Swahili equivalent): Unity: umoja Self-determination: kujichagulia Collective work and responsibility: ujima Cooperative economics:
ujamaa Purpose: nia Creativity: kuumba Faith: imani
LOCAL KWANZAA CELEBRATIONS
When: 7 p.m. Friday. Where: Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church, 1403 Tunnel Blvd. Phone: 698-3121. When: 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Where: Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 1800 N. Chamberlain Ave. Phone: 698-0337.
When: 2 p.m. Dec. 29. Where: Chattanooga African American Museum, 200 E. M.L. King Blvd. Phone: 267-1628.
The colors of the Kwanzaa flag — black, red and green — represent the people, their struggle and their future.
Since it follows hot on the heels of Christmas and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa is often misinterpreted as a religious event, but organizers of local Kwanzaa gatherings said the observance celebrates the bonds of family and heritage, not a common faith.
To Charlotte Lewis, who is organizing the fifth annual Kwanzaa celebration at Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church, the holiday is about communal healing.
“It’s all about transforming yourself, your family and your community for the better,” said Ms. Lewis, who is earning her doctorate in African-American studies at Clark Atlanta University.
“Kwanzaa is about showing that one person can make a difference.”
The celebration of black and African culture starts Friday and continues through Jan. 1. Local celebrations will include performances by dancers, singers, poets and storytellers, as well as speeches on the ways to incorporate the seven communal principles of Kwanzaa into everyday life.
The holiday is also a time for different generations to share their knowledge with one another, Ms. Lewis said.
“Each generation is responsible for the other’s survival,” she said. “The elders are the history teachers ... and let us know the sacrifices they’ve made as well as allowing the youth to know (they) will have to reach out and connect to their peers.”
Joyce Terrell, an administrative assistant at the Chattanooga African American Museum, is organizing the museum’s first Kwanzaa celebration in several years to take place on Dec. 29.
Helping the younger generations connect with their past and place their lives in a positive historical context is something Ms. Terrell said she considers one of the most important goals of a Kwanzaa celebration.
“Many (young people) are really, really lost,” she said. “I want the students and youth ... to know that they came from kings and queens; that point will mean a lot.”
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...