Statement just in from the White House:
“Michelle and I extend our warm thoughts and best wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today marks the first day of the week-long celebration of African-American history and culture through the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
To many, Kwanzaa serves as a time of reflection–taking lessons learned from our past and looking forward to a more promising tomorrow. It reminds us that though there is much to be thankful for we must recommit ourselves to building a country where all Americans have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
As families across America light the Kinara today in the spirit of unity, our family extends our prayers and well wishes during this season.”
President George W. Bush also marked each year during his terms with Kwanzaa greetings.
The founder of Kwanzaa is now the chair of Cal State Long Beach’s Department of Africana Studies — this from the Long Beach Post:
Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a way for African-Americans to honor their shared heritage and culture, the seven-day celebration—which begins today, December 26, and goes until January 1—has become an important holiday for those with black heritage worldwide.
Starting today with a parade down Crenshaw Blvd., the 36th annual Kwanzaa Gwaride Parade and Festival will be the largest Kwanzaa kickoff celebration in Southern California. With this year’s festival theme being “Freedom from Obesity,” the parade’s Iyaba (queen) and Oba (king) are both medical practitioners. The Kwanzaa Heritage Festival will also be held in Leimert Park on December 29 and will include live music, traditional dancing, a drum circle and international marketplace.
In his 2012 founders statement, Dr. Karenga discusses his theme for this year’s Kwanzaa, “Us and the Well-being of the World: A Courageous Questioning.”
“At the center of this concern and care must be a constant and courageous questioning first about how we understand and assert ourselves in the world and what this means,” Dr. Karenga wrote. “Thus, the Day of Meditation during Kwanzaa which is the culminating point and place of our remembrance, reflection and recommitment calls on us to sit down, think deeply about ourselves in the world, and measure ourselves in the mirror of the best of our culture to determine where we stand.”