MHS Students Learn About Kwanzaa

By: Stephen Bowers Email
By: Stephen Bowers Email

Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrated all over the world toward the end of each calendar year, and most of us are familiar with them.

Kwanzaa is a 7-day holiday that began about 40 years ago, as a way for African-Americans to celebrate their heritage.

Students at Meridian High School got a lesson in observing the holiday, courtesy of Ruth Kesinea Jones Friday.

"Christmas is a time when people like to focus on going out to spend lots of money to buy presents and things like that," said Jones, who describes it as a cultural rather than a religious holiday. "And there are some families who do not have money to buy presents."

Only two gifts are given, one of which has to be a book. The other has to be of African culture, such as jewelry or statues.

Jones especially wants to bring Kwanzaa into the schools to students.

"A lot of them have low self-esteem, and they need to be reminded that there was a time in history when we had this glorious past," Jones said.

Kwanzaa takes place over seven days. On each day, a candle is lit. Each candle symbolizes the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

The students who attended the demonstration at Meridian High School saw the importance of several things.

"Family and culture, learning not only African-American roots but people learning the culture of everyone who comes to America," said Maya Luster, an MHS senior.

"I didn't know anything about Kwanzaa," said senior Dan Barrett. "They taught us seven rules. The last rule spoke out before all of them. It was Imani, having faith and believing in God."

The other principles emphasize about being united, being yourself, working together, sharing wealth, having goals, and being creative.

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