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Kwanzaa celebrated at local gathering

PILOT MOUNTAIN — Christmas and New Year’s Day were heartily celebrated recently, but another observance in this area was also an important part of the season: Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa spans a seven-day period in which African-American families applaud, acknowledge, reaffirm and strengthen their cultural ties to Africa through music, food and principles such as unity and faith. It runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, and includes recognition of and giving thanks for the richness of one’s heritage in both Africa and the U.S.

And about 25 people did just that in Pilot Mountain at Hilda’s Place, an arts center in town which also is a live-music, food and beverage venue.

They took part in a first-ever Kwanzaa event locally which was hosted by Hilda’s Place, the Mount Airy/Surry County Branch of the National Association of University Women and Renee Andrews, a member of a citywide Kwanzaa committee in Winston-Salem.

Organizers are hoping this will be an annual collaboration and event.

Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Ron Karenga, a professor of black studies at California State University. Karenga saw a need for Americans of African lineage to have a holiday related to that culture which they could celebrate in this country.

It is now observed by millions of people throughout the world to highlight family, community and heritage.

The overall goal of Kwanzaa is to bring members of the community together to teach them about African history and culture, explained Cheryl “Yellow Fawn” Scott, a past charter president of the local university women’s group established in 2016.

“And so it teaches the youth and it teaches we as a people,” Scott said.

Although Kwanzaa is geared toward the African-American population, the recent event in Pilot Mountain attracted widespread interest.

“It was a diversified community that attended,” Scott added.

The gathering took place on Wednesday of last week, the final day of Kwanzaa.

Its seven-day commemoration includes honoring principles set aside for each, accompanied by the incremental lighting of candles until seven are burning on the final day. Kwanzaa concludes with the lighting of one celebrating Imani, or faith. This involves the Kinara, a candle holder symbolic of African-American roots.

A black candle represents the first Kwanzi principle of unity and three red candles honor the principles of self-determination, cooperative economics and creativity. Three green candles represent those of collective work/responsibility and purpose, along with faith.

In addition to the candle-lighting aspect, the recent celebration in Pilot Mountain featured a display of corn and other food items that are among Kwanzaa symbols. Kwanzaa is a Swahili word meaning “first fruits,” with the holiday celebrated at harvest time before the dry season begins in western, eastern and southern nations of Africa.

The display highlighted the rewards of good food achieved through productive and collective labor, with the corn representing the children in a family.

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Among those playing key roles in a recent observance of Kwanzaa in Pilot Mountain are, from left, Hilda Willis, Renee Andrews, Adreann Belle, LaDonna McCarther, Marie Nicholson and Cheryl “Yellow Fawn” Scott.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_Latest-Kwanza.jpgAmong those playing key roles in a recent observance of Kwanzaa in Pilot Mountain are, from left, Hilda Willis, Renee Andrews, Adreann Belle, LaDonna McCarther, Marie Nicholson and Cheryl “Yellow Fawn” Scott. Submitted photo

By Tom Joyce

tjoyce@mtairynews.com

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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Source: https://www.mtairynews.com

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