Why We Celebrate Kwanzaa

You’ve probably heard of the Black holiday, Kwanzaa—but do you really, really, really know what it is? Don’t trip here’s a lil’ history lesson for you!

In 1966 after the LA Watts Riots, Dr. Maulana Karenga—a Black Studies professor at California State, Long Beach created Kwanzaa. The Riot lasted six days and is said to be one of the largest urban rebellions during the Civil Rights Movement. Apparently, the riot created about 40 million dollars in property damage—people were going crazy. Just imagine the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 mixed with the Ferguson riots of 2014 times about four. The tension between Blacks and the LAPD was at a high and after the arrest of Marquette Frye, people felt it was time to take matters in their own hands—resulting in the Watts Riots. Dr. Karenga wanted to come up with a way to bring Blacks together in a positive way. He then founded an organization that researched different African harvest celebrations after researching, Dr. Karenga combined the various harvest celebrations and BAM there was Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is Swahili for “first fruits” and comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza”. Kwanzaa can be celebrated in many different ways, as long as each of the seven principles (Umoja/Unity, Kujichagulia/Self-determination, Ujima/Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa/Cooperative Economics, Nia/Purpose, Kuumba/Creativity, and finally Imani/Faith) are being represented on its perceptive day. It’s celebrated the day after Christmas up until New Years Day. Celebrating Kwanzaa is a sure way to make sure you bring in the New Year surrounded by positivity. With the current state of country and city, it might be time that we all celebrate Kwanzaa as a whole. If you are interested in celebrating this year in Chicago visit the website Do 312 to find a list of events that are being celebrated each day.

By Jordan Danae, Northern Illinois University Alumna

IG & Twitter: jordaniaa_


Written by Jordan Danae

Jordan Danaè, an urban literature nerd and a hip-hop enthusiast. Northern Illinois Alumna hailing from Louisville, Kentucky. I am because you are!

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