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Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition Celebrates the Principles of Kwanzaa

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The Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition has scheduled daily events and programs at various locations from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 to celebrate Kwanzaa.

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa embraces a principle that should be celebrated yearlong. The principles of Kwanzaa are:

  • Umoja (unity)
  • Kujichagulia (self-determination)
  • Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
  • Nia (purpose)
  • Kuumba (creativity)
  • Imani (faith)

The coalition is holding an essay contest for high school students in the Rochester City School District. The topic is cooperative economics, and students are asked to describe the concept, how it can help the community and provide a detailed example of how it could thrive in your neighborhood. Students can submit their essays through Dec. 23 to Craig Carson at

Kwanzaa honors family, community and culture in the African American tradition, according to The name “Kwanzaa” comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means first fruits. Each one of the seven principles is also identified in Swahili — the most widely spoken African language.

Kwanzaa celebrations in the United States began in 1966, after being founded by Maulana Karenga, current chair of the Department of Africana Studies at California State University. Karenga holds two doctorate degrees – one in political science and another in social ethics. He stresses the need to preserve, continually revitalize and promote African American culture.

Africans and African-Americans of all religious faiths and backgrounds celebrate Kwanzaa as the holiday is not a religious celebration but a cultural one. “We seek to honor our past, evaluate our present and commit ourselves to a more productive future,” Carson, Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition president, wrote in a news release.

Kwanzaa events will be held at schools, Avenue Blackbox Theatre, Phillis Wheatley Library, WOC Collective Space, Memorial Art Gallery, Gantt Recreation Center and other venues.

For the coalition’s complete schedule, go to