40 Years of Celebrating a Cultural Holiday

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People gathered at the Lincoln Neighborhood Service Center to recognize the first night of Kwanzaa. The first day, called "Umoja," stressed the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, focusing on the traditional sayings and habits of African culture.

"It's the coming of the harvest, the first fruits. This is the time to come together for families and community to celebrate our hard work and harvest for the year," said Miaisha Mitchell, who has celebrated Kwanzaa since its inception.

For the first time Fred Hicks and his family celebrated the holiday together.

"I wanted to bring my children out to expose them to an opportunity to understand more about their heritage and to understand the principles of Kwanzaa. To understand that you have a lot of which to be proud, and I want my children to understand that they never have to hang their head down and that they are just as good as anyone else, and if they can apply the principles of Kwanzaa then they can accomplish whatever they want to in life," said Hicks.

They are principles that help shape the future through reflection on the past.

"I don't think we get a chance to reflect on the things we have done for the past year. This is an opportunity to share with our family and our friends some of the things we've done this year, to talk about some things we want to do differently next year and then really make it our habit to do it," added Mitchell.

Kwanzaa is a seven day celebration started by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966.