By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer

Los Angeles – Angelenos came together Saturday, December 26, and Sunday, December 27, 2020, in Leimert Park Village, the vibrant heart of Black culture in Los Angeles. The occasion was the seven-day African American celebration of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a Celebration of Family, Community and Culture celebrated December 26, 2020- January 1, 2021. The annual KwanZaa Gwaride and Parade, founded forty plus years ago by Akile, was held this past weekend.

This year’s celebrations were different due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Most events were either cancelled, moved online for a virtual event, or scaled down and modified for safety reasons. 

The annual KwanZaa Gwaride and Parade rolled out with a Motorcade, from the intersection of Adams and Crenshaw. The Motorcade made its way down “The Shaw” to Leimert Village for a safe, socially distance community celebration, festival, and rally. The celebration featured music, vendors, and a candle lighting ceremony.

Kwanzaa, created in 1966, following the Watts Rebellion to unite the Black community. One can find Kwanzaa celebrated all over the world.

A beautiful weekend in Southern California consisted of bright, sunny, and breezy days. This was welcomed weather as Angelenos strolled around Leimert Park Village for the Kwanzaa community celebration, festival, and rally. A variety of food vendors serviced up a delicious cuisine of African, Caribbean, Vegetarian and Soul food. Various crafts booths featured unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry, clothing, wearable arts, headwraps, masks, and African instruments. A Touch of Class T-Shirt vendor owned and operated by Larry Weathers, Byoodefel Jewelry Boutique, Dedi’ the Creator, CEO and Digital International Roots & Cultural Gifts, Natty Bob were amongst the vendors on site. The Kwanzaa T-shirt in the enclosed photo was designed by Natty Bob and Lane Lopez. An eclectic soundtrack of music played throughout the weekend complimented the festivities.

“The conception and practice of Kwanzaa is rooted in both ancient African harvest celebration and the Black Freedom Movement and this calls for and urges an active and ongoing commitment to African and human good and the well-being of the world.”

This year’s Kwanzaa theme is “Kwanzaa and the Well-being of the World: Living and Uplifting the Seven Principles.” The theme seeks to call rightful attentiveness to the immediate and urgent need to be actively concerned and caring about the well-being of the world,” stated Dr. Maulana Karenga, written in his 2020 Founders message. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Karenga, Chair of the African Studies Department at Cal State Long Beach.

In what he called “an audacious act of self-determination,” Dr. Karenga described Kwanzaa as “a special and celebration of our sacred and expansive selves as African people” and “a unique Pan-African time of remembrance, reflections, reaffirmation, and recommitment.”

“It is a special and unique time to remember and honor our ancestors and reflect on what it means to be African and human in the most expansive and meaningful sense, and to reaffirm the sacred beauty and goodliness of ourselves and free ourselves and contribute to our ever-expanding realm of freedom, justice, and caring in the world.”

Kwanzaa is based on the theory of Kawaida, which espouses that social revolutionary change for Black America can be achieved by exposing Blacks to their cultural heritage.

Kwanzaa’s focus is the “Nguzo Saba,” the seven Principles- Umoja (Unity); Kujichagulia (Self-Determination); Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility); Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics); Nia (Purpose); Kuumba (Creativity); and Imani (Faith). 

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