East Texans preparing for Friday night Kwanzaa celebration in Longview

East Texans preparing for Friday night Kwanzaa celebration in Longview
Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 11:08 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2022 at 11:09 PM CST
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Some East Texans are celebrating another festival of lights this week. Kwanzaa celebrations began on Monday and will go through January 1.

Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration that honors the rich cultural roots of African ancestry, community, and different principles. Ebony Dennis, who organized an event in Longview on Friday night, said she’s seen fewer community celebrations in East Texas.

“I’ve seen where there has been a decline, if you notice, there’s not a lot of Kwanzaa celebrations and I was like, I need to make this happen,” she said.

This week Dennis is preparing to host anyone who wants to come celebrate and learn about Kwanzaa. A candle is lit each night that represents one of the seven principles.

“Unity, collective work and responsibility, purpose, self-determination, cooperative economics, creativity and faith,” Dennis said.

Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday and is celebrated by people of many faiths. While Kwanzaa is not recognized as a state holiday anywhere, the post office does honor Kwanzaa with special postage stamps.

Dennis uses the time to reflect on past accomplishments and hope for the future.

“I want others to experience the same experience that I feel. Once again, that importance of reflection and where do I go from here? That hope, that future, change. Change within my community, change within me,” Dennis said.

They will have an African dance by youth and parents and then go through the full celebratory practice.

“You will always see on the Kwanzaa table will be your kinara, the candle holder with the candles. You will always have the unity cup, now from this, when you’re going through the actual celebratory practice every member, each night takes a sip from the unity cup. The bowl, which has the fruits and vegetables, that’s your first fruits. It’s that collective work.”

The free event is Friday night starting at 6:30 p.m. at “The Venue” located at 314 Cotton Street in Longview.