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Different Holiday, Same Spirit

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) While some people in Cedar Rapids are taking down Christmas decorations, others are right in the middle of their holiday celebration. The African American Museum of Iowa hosted a Kwanzaa celebration where people of all religions were learning more about that holiday.

The focus was on cultural traditions that are also competing for attention this holiday season.

"We're hoping to educate people on what Kwanzaa is and how it's celebrated, said African American Museum of Iowa Education Assistant Krystal Gladden.

"It's a festival of thanksgiving. One of the things that we forget is to just be thankful for the things that we've received, said Betty Daniels of the African American Preservation of Family Committee.

Event organizers say its a lot easier to keep Kwanzaa at the front of a communitys mind in more urban centers. But in Iowa, where African Americans are about three-percent of the total population, its more of a challenge.

"Education is so essential because if you don't know who you are, there's no self-determination, said Daniels.

The effort to teach about Kwanzaa goes beyond the few days between Christmas and New Years. The hope is to keep Kwanzaa and what it represents alive for generations to come.

Pastor Bouchers children are half African-American. Esther Baker-Tarpagas daughter has relatives from West Africa.

Esther wanted to know more about that culture, but it was also for her, said Baker-Tarpaga. She was asking me, Whats Kwanzaa? so maybe she can learn about it today a little bit.

Betty says learning about our cultures as children is an important part of understanding where we fit in the world.

"I acknowledge who I am as a unique individual. I am African-American, I am of decent of Africans, I am American raised, said Daniels.

Seven Principles and Days of Kwanzaa
  • Dec. 26: Day 1 Umoja (Unity) This is a day to reflect on how to better work together
  • Dec. 27: Day 2 Kujichgulia (Self-Determination) Self-determination means taking control of your life, especially through setting goals.
  • Dec. 28: Day 3 Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) Make your neighbors problems your own and trying to find solutions together.
  • Dec. 29: Day 4 Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) Shop at neighborhood stores, allowing store owners to hire and purchase locally.
  • Dec. 30: Day 5 Nia (Purpose) work hard, love greatly. Give your life purpose.
  • Dec. 31: Day 6 Kuumba (Creativity) - Create
  • Jan. 1: Day 7 Imani (Faith) have faith, not only religiously, but also in the people around you.
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