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Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrated by some African Americans in late December, traditionally between December 26 and January 1. Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach. Karenga is an author and activist who stressed the indispensable need to preserve, continually revitalize and promote African American culture. Dr. Karenga is chairperson of the Organization Us, founder and guiding spirit of Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa was established in the midst of the Black Liberation or Black Freedom Movement of the 1960s (see Black Power), and reflects that movement's concerns for Afro-American cultural groundedness in thought and practice (see 'Black Pride'), and the community and self-determination associated with this.
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday but a cultural one, a syncretic festival, based on various elements of the first harvest celebrations that are widely celebrated in Africa, as in the rest of the world.
Each of the days symbolizes one of Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba):
- Umoja (Unity),
- Kuji-chagulia (Self-determination),
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility),
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics),
- Nia (Purpose),
- Kuumba (Creativity), and
- Imani (Faith).