2003-01-04 / Front Page

Community and Elected Officials Celebrate Kwanzaa

By Gary G. Toms


A young girl who attended the celebration stands near candles that represent the seven principals of Kwanzaa. The principals include Umoja (unity), unity of the family, nation and race; Kujichagulia (self-determination), knowing who we are and our role in the community; Ujima (collective work and responsibility), problem solving and the maintaining of our community and our family; Ujamaa (cooperative economics), the building and maintaining of our businesses to fill the mutual need of the community; Nia (pose), having pride in ourselves and our ancestry; Kuumba (creativity), using our individual talents to maintain and beautify our home and community; and Imani (faith), believing in ourselves, our family unit, and using our history to better plan for our future. Dr Maulena Karenga, his family and friends celebrated the first Kwanzaa in December of 1966, in Los Angeles.A young girl who attended the celebration stands near candles that represent the seven principals of Kwanzaa. The principals include Umoja (unity), unity of the family, nation and race; Kujichagulia (self-determination), knowing who we are and our role in the community; Ujima (collective work and responsibility), problem solving and the maintaining of our community and our family; Ujamaa (cooperative economics), the building and maintaining of our businesses to fill the mutual need of the community; Nia (pose), having pride in ourselves and our ancestry; Kuumba (creativity), using our individual talents to maintain and beautify our home and community; and Imani (faith), believing in ourselves, our family unit, and using our history to better plan for our future. Dr Maulena Karenga, his family and friends celebrated the first Kwanzaa in December of 1966, in Los Angeles.

The Far Rockaway community came together on December 26 for the African cultural celebration of Kwanzaa at the Madison Boys and Girls Club Community Center on Beach 40 Street. A number of local organizations took part in the unprecedented collaboration, such as The Carleton Manor Resident Council/Community Service Program; the Hammel Houses Resident Council; the Beach 40 Street Houses Resident Council; the Addabbo/PRYSE Committee on Community Development; the Coalition for Far Rockaway; the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula (JCCRP); Madison Boys & Girls Club; Goody's Restaurant; Queens Branch Public Library; Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC), and the National Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council.

These organizations, in conjunction with New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Titus and City Councilman James Sanders Jr., hosted the inaugural event, which was described by those in attendance as both historic and heart warming. The event served to unite the community and highlight the abundance of our community's rich cultural diversity.

The celebration brought out more than 250 people from the community, and featured performances by local youth and several other entertainers. Many of the residents, singers, dancers and rappers participated in the cultural presentation of Kwanzaa's "7 Principles" (Nguzo Saba) in a candle lighting ceremony.

John Watusi, from a branch of the African Poetry Theatre, hosted the cultural portion of the program. The African Love Institute, represented by Raphael Sanders and Geoffrey Harris, provided dancing, singing and drumming for the show. The youth groups "Half Our Age" and "The Untouchables" (dancers), rappers "L Wheezy" and "LMS", singer Dominique Horton, and DJ's Darren & Neil provided music during the celebration.


Assemblywoman Michele Titus (second from the right) and City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (center) joined representatives from the Queens Public Library, the Addabbo/PRYSE Committee on Community Development, the Coalition for Far Rockaway, and the Madison Boys and Girls Club in celebrating Kwanzaa.Assemblywoman Michele Titus (second from the right) and City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (center) joined representatives from the Queens Public Library, the Addabbo/PRYSE Committee on Community Development, the Coalition for Far Rockaway, and the Madison Boys and Girls Club in celebrating Kwanzaa.

Food donations from Goody's Restaurant's were instrumental in helping make the celebration a success.

The festivities began on the first day of Kwanzaa and appropriately exemplified the spiritual principle of Unity (Umoja) in the community. Vernell Robinson, Carleton Manor Resident Council President, shared her thoughts on the importance of celebrating Kwanzaa.

"Continued collaborations and communal events are necessary to nurture our youth, improve the quality of life, and united our community," said Robinson.

"The holiday season touches the entire community. As we prepare for the New Year, may we continue to collaborate in the spirit of peace, goodwill and unity."


Titus is pictured with several members of the committee that helped organize the event.Titus is pictured with several members of the committee that helped organize the event.

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