More than 400 people attended the 29th Annual Long Beach Kwanzaa Celebration on Sunday.
Kwanzaa honors African American culture and is observed from December 26 through January 1. This year’s event included performances by the Dembrebrah drum and dance company, spoken word artist Shy But Flyy, Street Corner Renaissance and Baba The Story Teller.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, currently the chair of Africana Studies at Cal State Long Beach. The word Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits of the harvest.” Seven candles are lit to celebrate what Karenga calls the seven principals of Kwanzaa, the best of African thought and practice.
The event was coordinated by Max Viltz of the Afrikan Cultural Research & Study Group. She said that this year’s Kwanzaa celebration drew the most people in the organization’s history.
“There has been a resurgence of pride in the African American community,” she said.
“I think that’s because we’re becoming aware that racism is becoming worse. People are recording racist incidents and we’re watching them (on social media),” Viltz said. “Black people are being told where they can and cannot be.”
Viltz said that the increase in racism is coming from the top. “The administration is saying that racism is okay,” she said. “So now, more than ever, people are longing to learn of our rich African culture.”
Victor Pearson shouts a Kwanzaa chant at the 29th Annual Long Beach Kwanzaa Celebration on Sunday, December 30, 2018 at Expo Arts Center in Long Beach. Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer