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Millions Celebrate Kwanzaa, Educate Others

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Crafts are an important part of the holiday.
RALEIGH — Even though Kwanzaa has been around for more than three decades, it's onlygained a lot of attention in the last several years. In fact, a lot ofpeople, including African Americans, still don't know that much aboutKwanzaa. Saturday, there was a lot to learn at the North Carolina Museumof Art.

Deborah Reid-Murphy believes a little education about Kwanzaa is greatexposure for her family. It's in the music, in the crafts and in theclothes. It's also a chance to celebrate the harvest and the good inothers.

The celebration was started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Now, morethan 30 years later, close to 15 million African Americans take part inthe holiday. But, there are still many people in the African Americancommunity who don't know what Kwanzaa's all about.

"I think at first folks were skeptical," Reid-Murphy admits. "Some folksthought it was supposed to substitute for Christmas. Others thought itwas something radical and wanted to stay away from it."

Now with the holiday gaining popularity, many people want to learn more about it. Renee Clark wants to learn because so many people are talkingabout it. Clark realizes Kwanzaa has to do with her African background,so she wanted to know more so she could share the celebration with herchildren.

‚Nancy Henriksen had no idea Kwanzaa wasn't a religious holiday. Now thatshe knows it's a time of renewal, she wants her children, who arehomeschooled, to know what it's all about.

Kwanzaa is based on seven different principles, and during the weeklongcelebration families light one candle every day on the Kinarah to recognize those principles.

Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility,cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith all speak to theimportance of keeping the African American community together. The hopeis Kwanzaa will allow future generations to celebrate their own past.

Kwanzaa means "first fruit" in Swahili. The holiday runs from December26th through New Year's Day.

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