VETTE’S VEGAS VOICE: Kwanzaa: Passing Down African-American Heritage
BY YVETTE WILLIAMS
Nevada made political history in several ways last month: The first Latina ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Jason Frierson was elected by his peers in the Nevada Assembly to serve as Speaker of the House, and Aaron Ford was elected by his peers to be Senate Majority Leader — marking the first time that African- Americans will serve as leaders of both houses. We congratulate them both and look forward to the 2017 legislative session, when we expect they will tackle many issues that impact our communities.
During the 2015 legislative session, Nevada lawmakers passed legislation on multicultural education. I’m honored to work on the Nevada Department of Education Multicultural Education Advisory Committee, making recommendations to the Nevada Academic Standards Council to ensure that racially/ethnically diverse populations are incorporated into social studies curriculum standards.
This work reemphasized to me the importance of passing down our African-American heritage — and with the Kwanzaa holiday approaching, you have plenty of time to plan a special celebration. Here are a few ideas from our family celebration, along with links and resources for your convenience.
Kwanzaa celebrates its 50th anniversary this year from December 26–January 1, cumulating with a festive potluck dinner on the final day of the celebration. Founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, each day of the week-long event celebrates one of seven principles and is celebrated by the lighting of a candle. Kwanzaa instills strong values and self-esteem in our children through knowledge of their rich cultural heritage and achievements in world history. Go to http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml to learn more about the principals and symbols of Kwanzaa.
To celebrate this fun and educational holiday, children activities should include reading, dancing to traditional music, sing-alongs, puzzles, historical/fictional and culturally rich movies (don’t forget to discuss important points and life lessons), art projects, listening to family stories of ancestors, and creating a showcase for your potluck dinner on New Year’s Day with family and friends. Bring family together by making your own Kwanzaa Celebration Day invitations and plan a traditional potluck with family and friends. Encourage your children’s help and ideas in the planning and ask each guest to bring a dry ear of corn to represent each of their children. During the lighting of the Kinara, ask a blessing for each of the children. Our family allowed the children to take turns lighting a candle on the Kinara as we recited the day’s principle. Plan a family visit to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis or the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.
Most of all, remember that Kwanzaa is a lifestyle that enriches each of our lives and promises a legacy we can all be proud to pass on. My prayer is that peace be with you in 2017.
Yvette Williams is a community advocate and Chair/Founder of the Clark County Black Caucus, a non-partisan community organization driven 100% by volunteer members registered to vote. Follow her Blog at www.YvetteBWilliams.com and on twitter @YvetteBWilliams or contact her at ClarkCountyBlackCaucus@gmail.com for more information.