Kwanzaa Comes To A Close In East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/1/03 - Tyler

Kwanzaa Comes To A Close In East Texas

The holiday season officially ended New Year's Day, with the last day for the celebration of Kwanzaa. The seven day holiday celebrating the history and heritage of African-Americans concluded with a feast Tuesday night, and a ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

"We wanted to show we keep our heritage," Scott Center President Ed Long says, "And we also contribute as citizens of the United States."

For B. M. Anderson Wheat-Simmons's fifteenth Kwanzaa, and she says she looks forward to the time every year.

"Each time, I feel like I know me and my source better, and I think that's probably the way it is with most of us."

Unlike other December holidays, Kwanzaa is not political or religious. It is simply a celebration of culture.

"Without the past," Wheat-Simmons says, "The present and the future is without anchor. For connectivity for strength of conviction, you need to know where you're coming from."

Each day of Kwanzaa focuses on one of seven social and spiritual principles, such as unity, purpose, and faith. As the community gathers, Wheat-Simmons hopes the positive message will be passed down from generation to generation.

"I want to help others start learning it earlier than I did," she explains.

Kwanzaa began in 1966 as a non-political, non-religious holiday. It involves African history and tradition, as a way to honor the heritage of the African-American community.

Reid Kerr reporting.

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