Five Kwanzaa Celebrations Around the Country

Kwanzaa is more than an end-of-year display of deep orange and burnt burgundy Dutch wax-print fabrics, and righteous images of fruit bowls sitting near wooden cups. It’s an edifying lifestyle choice.

“More people are starting to focus on who they are, and what they want their families to experience — empowering cultural stories that get our brains from up under the foot of oppression,” said Janine Bell, the president and artistic director of Elegba Folklore Society in Richmond, Va.

The holiday — observed by people of all ages and religious affiliations — resonates in a year of racial upheaval and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 30,000 Black Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year’s tone is virtual ceremonial pomp and circumstance, followed by bottles of apple cider or sparkling wine.

Kwanzaa, which starts on Dec. 26, was founded in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, then a leader of a community organization in Los Angeles called Us, and modeled after the harvest or “first fruits” celebrations in ancient Egypt, West Africa’s New Yam Festival and other celebrations on the African continent.

Mkeka, the woven natural colored mats, and kinara, the wooden candleholder flickering with seven flames, are standard for veteran Kwanzaa devotees. For many new observers, trimming a long table plays second fiddle to living the Nguzo Saba, or seven principles of Kwanzaa.

“It’s an absolute time of freethinking and openness,” Ms. Bell said. “A sense of spirit is centered — being grounded and elevated at once.”

One of Kwanzaa’s core ideals is bonding with loved ones. The seven days of celebration are both loud and quiet, humble and large, with Black Americans getting together around the nation, from suburban enclaves outside of Atlanta to cities along the banks of the James River in Virginia, to the Center Street community in Des Moines and mansions in Los Angeles’s Baldwin Hills.

Libations, a moment of silence for the ancestors, songs, dances, speeches, poems, harambee or the unity chant are activities during Kwanzaa nights. Slow-cooked meatless collard greens, crispy seasoned tofu slabs, whole spicy grilled fish, Trinidad-meets-New Orleans bread puddings and rum punch are devoured under the sound of drumming or groovy musical playlists. Young kids are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the festivities.

A time of feasting and candle-lighting are a soft pillow to collapse into after the long-haul duties of supporting Black-owned restaurants, organizing social justice direct actions, nurturing elders and dancing through pain and triumph. Black Americans reposing for seven days and bookending the time with a bounteous meal is communal self-care.



From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership  to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer.  Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.

Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.

Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit


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