DOINews: NPS-African Burial Ground National Monument: Kwanzaa Celebration Held In Park

Last edited 09/05/2019

Kwanza celebration African Burial Ground National Monument
The National Park Service's African Burial Ground National Monument celebrates Kwanzaa, the week-long African American holiday that runs from Dec. 26 from Jan. 1. View additional photos and video on the park's Facebook page.

African Burial Ground National Monument held a Kwanzaa celebration from this past Thursday through Saturday as part of the week-long African American holiday, which is observed from Dec. 26 until Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa focuses on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce and self-improvement. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwana," which means "first fruits" in Swahili.

Each day's activities included libation ceremonies honoring the ancestors, tours of both permanent and visiting art displays, and a screening of the movie “The Black Candle.” On Thursday, there were special talks – “Why We Celebrate Kwanzaa” and “All About Kwanzaa” – in the morning. The dance troupe Something Positive took the stage in the early afternoon. The Uptown Dance Company returned this year to perform the beloved “Black Nutcracker.”

This year the National Park Service also commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Rites of Ancestral Return, which marked the interment of the 419 individuals whose remains were uncovered during the construction of the Ted Weiss Federal Building, located at 290 Broadway in Lower Manhattan.

The special ceremony took place at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. It featured speaker Tommie Smith, who took the gold medal in the 200 meters during the summer Olympics in 1968, and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins. The ceremony was followed by a short concert by noted soprano Shelby Banks, who is known for her beautiful versions of Negro spirituals. The day closed with a performance by Asase Yaa.

On Saturday, following the libation ceremony, there was a talk on “The Importance of Celebrating Kwanzaa,” followed by a selection of youth readings and spoken word performances. There were also performances by Quest Youth Organization and the Fusha Dance Company. The day's presentation was entitled “The Significance of Cloth and Textiles in West/Central African Societies.”

“We were extremely excited about this year's Kwanzaa at the African Burial Ground, and we are very happy that everyone came out and joined us as we celebrated the community and youth.” said Shirley McKinney, superintendent of African Burial Ground National Monument. “We are especially honored to have Tommie Smith and Mayor Dinkins with us for the commemoration of the Rites of Ancestral Return, which make this year's Kwanzaa observance so special.”

By: Tom O'Connell, NPS

Dec. 30, 2013

This story appears in the Dec. 30, 2013, edition of InsideNPS.

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