San Francisco Kwanzaa Celebration

By Lee Hubbard The seventh annual San Francisco Kwanzaa Celebration will take place starting at noon Wednesday, Dec. 26 at San Francisco City Hall. The keynote address will be given by Dr. Amos Brown, senior pastor at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco. “Dr. Amos Brown is a very powerful speaker, and he will give a powerful message on the importance of Kwanzaa and Black heritage” said Adrian Williams, executive director of the Village Project, which puts on the city’s celebration of Kwanzaa. “The major goal of our Kwanzaa celebration is to unite and strengthen Black families and the Black community in San Francisco,” said Williams. Tempie Priestly, Executive Director of Renaissance Parents of Success, will be acknowledged on the first day of Kwanzaa for  26 years of service to youth and families and her advocacy for people in Bayview/Hunters Point. “It is important that we acknowledge Tempie Priestly, because she helps to strengthen families by providing jobs, mentoring youth and being active in the Bayview community,” said Williams. Kwanzaa is a seven-day holiday created by Black nationalist leader Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, as a way to give African Americans  an alternative to the existing holiday season and a way for Blacks to celebrate themselves and their history. The holiday also offers a way to help African Americans to reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and the study of African traditions, which is called “Nguzu Saba,” according to Karenga, a history professor at Long Beach State University. The Seven principles of Kwanzaa are Umoja (Unity), Kukichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (faith). Since its inception, Kwanzaa has grown, and over 30 million people celebrate the holiday all over the world. The U.S.  Postal Service issued a Kwanzaa stamp in 1997 and another in 2004. Other local highlights of the Kwanzaa celebration, which ends on New Year’s Day,  include,  “A Celebration of our Elders” at Westbay Conference Center, 7 p.m. on Dec. 26; “A Celebration of Dance,” featuring the Village Dancers of Crossroads and the Laney College Dance Department at Hamilton Recreation Center, 2  p.m. on Dec. 27; a  Celebration of  the Emancipation Proclamation” at 2 p.m. on Jan. 1  at the Bayview Opera House/Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre and  later on Jan. 1, a “Night of Gospel” at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church at 6 p.m., featuring Emmit Powell and  the Gospel Elites and Kevin Peabody leading the First Friendship Institutional Church’s Praise Team. “The night of gospel music at St. Cyprian’s church will conclude our Kwanzaa,” said Williams.  “With Imani, the definition of faith, we need to believe in our people and our community.” As  founder of the Village Project, a service organization that focuses on education and cultural enrichment for young people and families in the Western Addition, Williams has been one of the main Black leaders working to strengthen the African American community in San Francisco. She views the Kwanzaa celebration as a way to look back on the past year and then move forward, with a message of Black empowerment going on into the new year. “This is a crisis time for African Americans in this country, and we have to do better as a people,” continued Williams.   “We need to celebrate the seven principles, not only during Kwanzaa, but throughout the entire year. If practiced, this will help to strengthen the Black family and the community.”
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