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Lebanon's African-American community prepares to celebrate Kwanzaa

Mary Hinds • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Once again, Lebanon's African-American community is gearing up to celebrate Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration held in the United States that honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from Thursday through Jan. 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.

Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba): Unity; self-determination; collective work and responsibility; cooperative economics; purpose; creativity; and faith. Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga in 1966 as the first specifically African-American holiday.

Karenga said his goal was to "give blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society." The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning first fruits of the harvest.

Mary Harris is the president of the Wilson County Black History Committee. She's known throughout the community for making sure local African Americans are aware of their heritage and take pride in it. She is also the driving force behind Lebanon's Kwanzaa celebration.

"We will be focusing on the second day, Kujichagula or self-determination," she said. "All family members are asked to attend, but especially our children and youth."

The celebration is designed to be just that - a celebration, with historical presentations included in a fun way.

The event will be Thursday at Pickett-Rucker UMC Hope Center at 633 Glover St. For more information, call 615-739-2283.

"We will have music, fun and fellowship," Harris said. "Everyone is welcome and invited to wear African attire."

Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or maryhinds@lebanondemocrat.com.

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