African-Americans celebrate their heritage with Kwanzaa

World Today

Monday marks the last day of Kwanzaa. It’s a cultural holiday celebrating African-American heritage.

The 2017 observance follows a year of heightened racial tensions in the United States. CGTN’s Andrea Arenas reports.

Dancing to the rhythm of African drums–that’s how people at this community center in Washington, D.C., celebrate Kwanzaa, a holiday when African-American families honor their roots and culture.

“It’s a time to recollect that the end of the year is here, and the new one is beginning, but just ultimately celebrating and being together, and enjoying ourselves and showing our greatness to each other,” said Jessica Selvin.

But it’s more than just togetherness. Baba Melvin Deal founded the group, African Heritage Dancers and Drummers. He said concerns about racial inequality and racism have led to an increase in the number of people celebrating Kwanzaa this year.

“The current political climate definitely has caused more people to come out and embrace Kwanzaa,” said Deal. “We haven’t forgotten that there is still a struggle. We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go, and in the meantime, we must police our position in this society so that we don’t slip backwards, so that we move forward.”

During a year in which social justice movements, like Black Lives Matter, have played a significant role, this holiday highlights a sense of belonging for African-American communities.

Lucrecia Scott grew up celebrating Christmas, but she’s decided to start a new tradition with her children. She said she wants her two daughters, six-years-old and two-years-old, to be proud of their African heritage.

“Kwanzaa this year is my Christmas gift to my kids,” said Scott. “So instead of a bunch of gifts under the tree, I told them that we are gonna celebrate Kwanzaa.”

Deal said that unity, responsibility, creativity, faith–some of Kwanzaa’s principles—help to make the country better.

“It’s important to remind people about Kwanzaa because Kwanzaa is about values, and many people in American society today are very jaded of their values,” said Deal.

For this community, Kwanzaa is more than just a “Black Holiday” – it’s a recognition of their history and worth as African-Americans.