Friday, December 27, 2002

Cultural program opens Kwanzaa

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The auditorium of Woodward High School reverberated with drumbeats and the feeling of the unity.

Hundreds of African-Americans came to the school Thursday for a musical and cultural program - "The First Fruits of Harvest" - on the first day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration in honor of the community bonds, heritage, pride and values of the African culture.

Members of the Community Drummers and Dancers perform in 24th citywide Kwanzaa celebration at Woodward High School.
(Jeff Swinger photo)

• Began Thursday and goes through Wednesday this year.
• Established in 1966; inspired by the black pride movement of the '60s.
• Celebrated by 28 million people worldwide.
• Final feast is Tuesday.
"It's sharing and coming together in peace, unity and harmony where the purpose of being here is to appreciate the culture," said Mae Duncan of Mount Auburn, who came with her granddaughter, Dya Patton, and 10-year-old great-grandson, Daveed Pleasant.

The cultural holiday was born out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and was first celebrated the year after the Los Angeles Watts riot of 1965.

"It's very important, especially for young black people, to be exposed to their culture," said Heru Lasana, a Walnut Hills resident who came to the celebration with about a dozen family members.

Mr. Lasana said most American holidays don't address the history of African-American people. Kwanzaa, he said, offers a unique opportunity.

Organizers said Thursday's event marked the 24th city celebration of Kwanzaa.

"We have to be proud of ourselves so other people look at us with dignity," said organizer Curt Standifer of the City-Wide Kwanzaa Committee. "We have to have pride coming from ourselves so people look at us and say `These people stand for truth and justice.' We are righteous people."


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