Happy Holidays- Kwanzaa Edition By: Dorian Buford

As we approach the holiday season, there are many traditions that are celebrated this time of the year. Kwanzaa is one that brings much excitement too many during this season. To share the meaning of this unique holiday, I’d like to welcome today’s guest-blogger and Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion member, Dorian Buford. Sit back and learn why this holiday means so much to many.


In the Beginning of this month, I attended the DEI Council meeting which was hosted by Malon Hood. Malon serves as the DEI Facilitator of our Agency, Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley. During this meeting, we discussed the upcoming events, traditions and holidays throughout November and December that we could potentially recognize and highlight. A few of the upcoming holidays and traditions that were suggested by members of the council were Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. One of the mentioned holidays that captured my attention and interest was Kwanzaa. Although I had heard of this holiday before, I was unaware of its true meaning and history. Ultimately, this caused me to do further research with the help of Malon and the DEI council. I took it upon myself to learn more about the holiday and bring awareness to our organization about the importance of this overlooked holiday.

Upon my research, I found a lot of interesting facts that I had never heard before. Having never intentionally celebrated this holiday, I found its traditions and meaning to be very similar to beliefs I incorporate into my everyday life. I had always assumed that this holiday was for those of African descent, to only find out that it was actually created by an African American man who wanted to unite and empower the Black community during the late 1960’s. This intrigued my interest even more to further investigate.

Kwanzaa is a non-religious, non-political African American holiday that celebrates family, community and culture. There are seven days to Kwanzaa, each representing a principle. The first day is Umoja meaning unity, followed by Kujichagulia meaning self-determination, then Ujima meaning collective work and responsibility, next Ujamaa meaning cooperative economics, after is Nia meaning purpose, then Kuumba meaning creativity, and lastly Imani meaning faith. These days can be celebrated in a multitude of ways such as giving back to the community, gift giving, supporting a locally owned business and many more. Like Hanukkah, a candle is lit each day to represent a principle. The candles are in order from red symbolizing the struggle of the people, black representing African ancestors, and green meaning the land and hope of the people

After learning more about Kwanzaa, I felt a sense of connection to this holiday. To be a young African American male, it is shameful that I was uninformed about Kwanzaa at an earlier age. Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa once said, “Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their religion or religious holidays but to refrain and restore our rootedness in African culture”. As I take this into account, I realize the importance of this holiday and I hope to continue my education in learning more about other cultural holidays. I urge that as you celebrate during the holiday season, take some time to research and recognize other non- traditional holidays as well.

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