TAMPA, Fla. — Many people across the U.S. are celebrating Kwanzaa, a seven-day African American holiday that starts on Dec. 26 and ends on Jan. 1.
“Kwanzaa is important to our entire community because it represents family, community and togetherness,” said Reverend Dr. Glenn B. Dames, Jr., pastor of Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tampa.
Dames said many of his parishioners celebrate the holiday.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 to unify and empower African Americans after the Watts Riot in Los Angles. Many people celebrate Kwanzaa to pay homage to their ancestry.
“So, it teaches us pride, but also teaches us respect for other people,” said Dames.
Each day of Kwanzaa, a candle is lit representing one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
“All of those seven principles represent us as a community and the importance of our strength together,” said Dames.
The candles are red, black and green. Red represents the blood that was shed for liberation, black represents the people of African descent, and green represents hope for the future.
“Those are things that make the African American community rich in heritage, rich in thought,” said Dames.
Though the holiday was created and is largely celebrated by African Americans, anyone can celebrate Kwanzaa and its principles.
This article was written by Anthony Hill for WFTS.