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The Founder of Kwanzaa Comes To Rochester

Randy Gorbman

The founder of Kwanzaa made a stop in Rochester on Sunday. It was all part of activities at the Memorial Art Gallery that brought hundreds to the museum.

The "MAG"  has been celebrating a "family day" around activities for the African holiday of Kwanzaa for more than 20 years, but this time they had a  special presentation, a lecture from the man who created the holiday back in 1966, Maulana Karenga. 

He is now a professor at California State University-Long Beach, and Chair of Africana Studies. He still writes and speaks often about the holiday he developed in an effort to help black people move forward.

Karenga says this holiday has a dual purpose, focusing on the history of African Americans, but also espousing values that speak to everyone.

"Kwanzaa drawing from the best of African culture speaks first to Africans, but it also speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human at the same time."

Kwanzaa promotes seven principles including unity, self-determination and purpose.  Karenga says unlike Christmas, or Hanukkah, it's not a religious holiday but a cultural one.

"What happens here is we're celebrating what unites us as a people, not the different way we look at the world, our faith, or our politics, or economics, etc., it's about our culture. "

Karenga wants to reaffirm a sense of community and ask people to contribute to the kind of world that everyone wants, one that involves a life of dignity and decency

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.