Saint Louis Art Museum sees strong turnout for annual Kwanzaa celebration

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ST. LOUIS – Families enjoyed a day of culture, performances, and tradition out at the Saint Louis Art Museum during its annual Kwanzaa celebration on Saturday.

“I’m here to celebrate Kwanza and the Rites of Passage program, where we have some young ladies who are presenting and dancing, doing the program,” said attendee Lisa Williams. “I’m really excited. I had the opportunity and was blessed to come to the program last year, so I wanted to make sure I brought my niece out so she can enjoy it with us this year.”

People got in line early outside the Saint Louis Art Museum to celebrate Kwanzaa. The theme this year is “Ubuntu: I am connected.” 

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“Unity is like connecting with my niece, spending quality time, making memory events, good girlfriend,” said Williams. “We get together right after Christmas to come enjoy. It’s all part of fellowship.”

“It’s not just for the black community,” her friend Regina Torrey explained. “Everybody can be a part of Kwanza.”

Williams’ niece Marlii Whitciker added, “I like how it’s different from Christmas because we have Hanukkah and stuff. So this is basically that for the African-American culture, and it helps people celebrate and get to know more about their culture as a union.”

This event was ticketed, but free. People of all ages could enjoy activities like arts and crafts. There was also a scavenger hunt where people could learn about the seven principles of Kwanzaa. They had a photobooth in Sculture Hall and performances in the Farrell Auditorium. 

“We’re really excited to be hosting a special performance with Spirit of Angela, a West African dance and drum group, along with the Deltas,” said Erica Richard, the youth and family learning associate educator at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

The event is presented in partnership with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. St. Louis Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter. 

“We’ve been partnering with the Deltas for over 20 years, and we have one of the largest celebrations in the city,” said Richard.

A professor in California launched the holiday in the middle of the Black Freedom Movement in 1966. People who celebrate light red, black and green candles, representing the seven principles. Kwanzaa is based on “first fruits” celebrations that take place in parts of Africa. These are times of harvest and the gathering of family and community. 

The seven-day celebration of Kwanzaa started on Dec. 26. It goes through Monday. 


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