Long Beach’s African American Cultural Center to host its second annual Kwanzaa celebration virtually

The recently established African American Cultural Center in Long Beach will be hosting its second annual Kwanzaa celebration virtually Tuesday night, featuring a special tribute to cultural leader Sakkara Thomas Anderson, who died this fall.

Starting at 6 p.m., Phaedra Allen, the center’s program committee chair, said the celebration will include African drumming and dancing and programming themed around cultural significance, purpose and connection. Cultural leaders Olufemi and Max Viltz of the African Study Group and Village Treasures will be facilitating the event for the center, Allen said.

This year’s program will also feature award-winning cultural performer Baba The Storyteller and a candle lighting ceremony, which will having the facilitators light the three red, one black and three green candles. This seven-day holiday started on Dec. 26 and will end on Jan. 1.

Traditionally, people celebrate seven different principles throughout the span of the holiday each day, and Tuesday night falls on the fourth principle, Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), the center black candle. However, facilitators will light them all that night and go over each principle represented, from principles of unity to faith, according to Allen.

The colors, Allen said, symbolize Pan African colors:  “Red is the blood that unites all of us, black is for the skin and ancestry, and green is for the abundance of the motherland.”

Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of Africana Studies at Cal State Long Beach, created the seven-day holiday in 1966 to honor ancient African harvest customs and celebrations. Kwanzaa, which translates to “first fruits” in Swahili, is celebrated in America and around the world.

Anderson, was also a local proponent of the holiday who had been hosting it for 30 years of celebration outside of the African American Cultural Center, Allen said.

To register for this virtual event, click here.

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.