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Where to Observe Birmingham’s Kwanzaa Celebrations Beginning Dec. 26

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On each day of Kwanzaa, families light a candle on the Kinara to celebrate a different principle. (FILE)

By Sym Posey

The Birmingham Time

The Birmingham Kwanzaa Movement (BKM) is preparing next week to kick off its annual celebration at the Boutwell Auditorium on December 26 with Umoja (oo–MO–jah) unity which is to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Kwanzaa is held from Tuesday, December 26 to Monday, January 1.

Clarence Muhammad, chair of BKM said, “its central focus is to bring the community together to learn and connect and engage with people who are Black that may have a different spiritual tradition or philosophical viewpoint. That’s the uniqueness of Kwanzaa.”

On each day of Kwanzaa, families light a candle on the Kinara to celebrate a different principle.

“Kwanzaa is not an African American celebration. It uses African principles to develop a unique celebration here in America,” Muhammad said, “… it is not to be in competition with Christmas, it’s a Black cultural celebration that brings in agnostics, atheists, Christians, Muslim, people of the African and Santorini spiritual tradition.”

A Fountain Heights native, Muhammad has been a part of the Birmingham Kwanzaa committee for more than 20 years. “The dynamics of the organization changes and I was asked to organize it. A year ago, I formed my own organization, The Birmingham Kwanzaa Movement. “

His interest in “Black conscience” began while he was at A.H. Parker High School. “I’ve always been a seeker of knowledge. My electronics teacher, Willie Hill introduced me to a lot of influencers in that area when I was 15. People like Sanovia Muhammad and a few others.”

After attending a Malcom X Day at a mosque in North Birmingham, Muhammad said he’s been on a journey of growth. At age 17, Muhammad said he joined the Nation of Islam.  “Since 2008, I’ve been celebrating Kwanzaa “he said.

Founded in 1966 by professor and activist Maluna Karenga, the seven-day observance is based on harvest festival traditions from various parts of Africa. Steeped in the celebration of family, community, and learning, Kwanzaa is based on seven principles: unity (Umoja), self-determination (Kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (Ujima), cooperative economics (Ujamaa), purpose (Nia), creativity (Kuumba) and faith (Imani). On each day of Kwanzaa, families light a candle on the Kinara to celebrate a different principle.

Birmingham Kwanzaa Event Calendar

UMOJA

Tues. Dec. 26, 6 p.m.

Host: Clarence Muhammad

Boutwell Auditorium 1930 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Boulevard Birmingham, Al 35203

KUJICHAGULIA

Wed. Dec. 27, 6 p.m.

Host: Muhammad Mosque 69

521 Tuscaloosa Ave Birmingham, Al 35211

UJIMA

Thurs. Dec. 28, 6 p.m.

Host: National Hookup of Black Women

East. Lake United Methodist Church 7753 1st Ave S Birmingham, Al 35206

UJAMAA

Fri. Dec. 29, 6 p.m.

Host: Omega Psi Phi

Crescent Cultural Community Center 1121 Tuscaloosa Ave, Birmingham, AL 35211

NIA

Sat. Dec. 30, 1 p.m.

Hosts: Bomani and Zsa Zsa Williams

Birmingham Public Library, 5 Points West 4812 Avenue W, Birmingham, AL 35208

KUUMBA

Sun. Dec. 31, 4 p.m.

Host: St Paul United Methodist Church

1500 6th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203

IMANI

Jan. 1, 12 p.m.

Bessemer Wellness Collective Grade A Cafe & Lounge

830 22nd Street N, Bessemer, Al 35020