Even if you’re not among the 500,000 Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa, you probably know that the festival honoring African heritage in African-American culture takes place from December 26 through January 1. But if that’s all you know about this week of reflection, here’s a great chance to understand it better: The DuSable Museum of African American History is hosting a warm, welcoming public event on each of the seven days, explaining the history of the holiday and the specific meaning behind each day’s theme to anyone interested in learning more about it.
Kwanzaa is a celebration, but it also deals with fairly serious topics — so the stately DuSable Museum, with its grand stone facade and gleaming marble entryway, is a fitting place to ponder all o its principles. Traditionally, the week of Kwanzaa is built around seven themes, such as “unity,” “purpose,” and “self-determination.” The museum features a candle-lighting ceremony each day from noon to 1 pm, marking each of the seven principles on their special day. Bring older children to listen to advocates from the black community discuss those themes — for example, the week kicks off with a talk from Marlon McClinton, a priest from the Temple of the African Community of Chicago, on the value of unity. Other guests throughout the week include a representative of Black Wall Street, who will talk about the Kwanzaa theme of cooperative economics, and Maséqua Myers, executive director of the South Side Community Arts Center, to discuss purpose.
But it’s not all about discussions; on the 28th, bring your family for craft activities, performances, and screenings. You’ll definitely want your kids to meet the luminaries assembling at the museum on this day. The awe-inspiring Tuskegee Airmen will be there — amazing role models, to say the least — and the NAJWA Dance Corps will wow the crowd with a demonstration.
On the 31st, it’s party time – you’ll celebrate creativity with teen dance troupe Move Me Soul, and ring in 2015 with a fun celebration. Attend these events with your family, get into the spirit of each day’s Kwanzaa principle, and carry it home for the new year.