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Caribbean Americans celebrated Kwanzaa

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The Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music celebrated Ujima — the fifth day of Kwanzaa — at the Macon Gallery on Dec. 28. Dozens of guests came to the commemorate the holiday and it was a perfect way to conclude the 2017, said one of the organizers.

“It’s a time to be with families and loved ones and learn to rekindle and recharge, so you can be rejuvenated to reclaim yourself going into the new year — I believe Kwanzaa is a great way to finish year,” said Sharon Gordon, co-founder of the coalition.

Kwanzaa is a weeklong Pan-African holiday created in the late ‘60s by Dr. Maulana Karenga as way to encourage black unity and celebrate ancestry. It starts the day after Christmas and ends on New Years Day. Each day is represented by seven principles.

Every year the group honors several people that exemplify hard work and dedication with their CPR Service Award. This year that recognition was presented to three recipients — 14-year-old Chinyere Brown McVitie, who volunteers with the organization, Keisha Martin, who is a singer and longtime member, and co-founder of the coalition, Carlyle McKetty.

Because Ujima is the principle for collective work and responsibility, it was the best day to hold the event and honor people who have been critical to the advancement of the organization and she was delighted at people who came, said Gordon.

“It was absolutely beautiful to celebrate Ujima and collective work and responsibility, and we really came together,” said Gordon. “We thought people wouldn’t come but a lot of kids showed up — we had a nice full house.”

Gordon says that while the holiday is a traditionally an African-American one, other black ethnicities and cultures should and can celebrate it because it is inclusive of the Diaspora, and one of the few holidays created to unite people of African descent.

“Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday and it’s secular and not religious,” she said. “It’s a celebration of culture that draws upon several African traditions and the principles are words we can live by.”

She says despite apprehension about observing the holiday and lack of popularity in many Caribbean communities, as a Jamaican-American she feels connected to Kwanzaa and what it stands for.

“This was created to remind us who we are, and when you think of it, no matter where come from — we have more in common than differences,” said Gordon. “These are powerful principles and although it really doesn’t get enough support of radio or mainstream coverage to get to the Caribbean, it would be priceless if we all can Iive by Kwanzaa’s principles and apply to our daily lives.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 4:08 pm, January 16, 2018
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