Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kwanza Sacramento

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Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Kwanzaa Worldwide

Sacramento’s first Kwanzaa

Sacramento’s first Kwanzaa was held in 1971 as an outgrowth of Shule Jumamose, a free Saturday School founded in Oak Park by a group of African American parents and students at Sacramento State College, now CSUS.    A core component of the school’s philosophy was the importance of culture and history to the development and success of African American people. 

Kwanzaa, as founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga of Southern California, fitted Shule Jumamose’s   commitment to traditional African values of family, education, community responsibility, and self-improvement.  Based on the Nguzo Saba, seven guiding principles – Unity (Umoja); Self Determination (Kujichaguilia); collective work and responsibility (Ujima); Cooperative Economics (Ujimaa), purpose (Nia); creativity (Kuumba); and Faith (Imani) – the founders of Shule Jumamose adopted Kwanzaa as the major cultural observation and formed a committee to implement it.

The original Kwanzaa committee was comprised of Shule Jumamose’s founders Bertha Gaffney Gorman, Martha Tate-Glass  (Reid), and the late Cheryl Fisher, Stan St. Amant and Byron Robertson, and other community activists that included Tchaka Muhammed, Roy Willis, Ramona Armistead, Lujuan and the late Leslie Campbell and late Aisha Yetunde (Barbara Darden). 

The Sacramento Kwanzaa Committee closely followed the seven principles that Dr. Karengaa deemed critical to the success and strength of an African Americans cultural observation.  Kwanzaa programs emphasized the education of Black children, honored the ancestors and focused on values represented by the seven principles.   Committee members raised money, solicited donations, and donated their own resources to provide the major portions of the food served at the “feast”.  The community was only asked to bring desserts, salads or vegetables (no pork).  

The committee alternated the observations between Oak Park and Del Paso/Strawberry Manor. Using Fairbanks school, church halls and various community centers.

Overly ambitious in its efforts in its first year, the Kwanzaa Committee held celebrations the entire seven days, from December 26 to January 1, rotating from Oak Park, to the South Area and Strawberry Manor.  While the effort was successful in getting the word out about this new and positive observation in Sacramento and generated local news coverage, it almost wiped out the committee.

The second year the committee was more realistic and scaled its Kwanzaa activities back to three days at three different locations in the central city (Oak Park), the South Area and the North Area (Strawberry Manor).

By the third year the Sacramento Kwanzaa Committee observations had grown from a few dozen people to several hundred participants at each celebration. 

As Kwanzaa evolved from a “fad” to a serious observation, diverse people began to bring their own interpretation to it.  The media wrote about it, people held Kwanzaa celebrations in their homes; public schools held Kwanzaa observations, and entrepreneurs began holding Kwanzaa events.  After about 12 years, around 1983, the Sacramento Kwanzaa committee simply burned out.

Kwanzaa as a community observation was dormant in Sacramento for a few years but took on new life sometime in the 1990s and has continued since under the umbrellas of various organizations and groups.

By Bertha Gaffney Gorman and Martha Tate Glass

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2016 Kwanzaa Celebrations in Sacramento
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Kwanzaa
All events are free. Please bring food for the potluck (karamu) at the Dec. 27-Jan.1 events)

December 27 - 6:00pm-9:00pm, (6-6:30 Drum Circle) – Kugichagulia - Umoja Productions, 23rd Annual Children's Kwanzaa, Roberts Family Development Center, 770 Darina Way, Sacramento. Contact: Mama Maia, 821-6466
December 28, - 6:30pm-9:00pm - Ujima - Black United Fund of Sacramento, Sacramento Area Black Caucus and Brickhouse Art Gallery & Complex, 2837 36th St., Sacramento. Sorry no vending at this celebration!! Contact: Bertha Udell,
December 29 - 6:00pm-9:00pm -  Ujamaa - Wo'se African Community-Wackford Community Center, 9014 Bruceville Rd. Elk Grove. Contact: Imhotep Alkebulan, woseafricancommunity@gmail.com or 486-4664
December 31 - 3:00pm-4:30pm -  Kuumba - Fenix Drum and Dance Company-Del Paso Heights Library, 920 Grand Ave. Sacramento. Contact: Angela James, 205-3970
 New location:-December 31 - 6:00pm-8:00pm – Kuumba - Kwanzaa Celebration- Robbie Waters Library, 7335 Gloria Drive @ Swale River Wa,Sacramento, Ca. 95831. Doors open: 5:00pm, Kwanzaa celebration begins : 6:00pm.. Contact: Marshall Bailey, 519-4199
January 1 - 4:00pm- 7:00pm – Imani – 13th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration-Center for Spiritual Awareness, 1275 Starboard Dr. West Sacramento. Contact: Rebecca Davis, 317-6042

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