Kwanzaa Celebration Begins with Few Public Observances


An African-American holiday based on peaceful principles began Tuesday, but there are few public observances of the holiday in the Wilmington area.

Kwanzaa was created 40 years ago by a California professor during the Civil Rights movement.

The holiday is based on seven life principles, including unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. A candle is lit for each principle, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Although the holiday is often celebrated around the world with elaborate festivals, Wilmington has not seen one since 2003.

Some say that could be due in part to misconceptions that accompany the holiday, for example, thinking it replaces Christmas, or that it should only be observed by African-Americans.

"If you look at the seven principles, it's for the community," says Mary Battle, a Wilmington woman who's celebrated Kwanzaa for 15 years. "It's for everyone. Unity-to come together, do something to celebrate family. It's not just a black thing."

Battle says she hopes to see more public, elaborate Kwanzaa celebrations in Wilmington and other cities. Until then, she'll continue her tradition of setting a Kwanzaa table at home each year.

Reported by Nicole Ferguson