Black Tuesday: Kwanzaa Crawl visits black-owned bars

Black Tuesday: Kwanzaa Crawl visits black-owned bars|Black Tuesday: Kwanzaa Crawl visits black-owned bars
Deneka Peniston|Deneka Peniston

She’s trying to make Kwanzaa hip!

A Bedford-Stuyvesant comedian will lead a day-drinking expedition to black-owned bars across Brooklyn for the second annual Kwanzaa Crawl on Dec. 26. The event not only supports black-owned businesses, but is a way to get young people involved with the African-American holiday, said its creator.

“For people in my age group detached from the holiday — I thought ‘How can make Kwanzaa cool again, and how do we pull it back into consciousness?’ ” said Kerry Coddett. “I thought of the bar crawl as a cool idea that people between 21 and 45 years old can really get on board with.”

The seven-day holiday celebrates African heritage and black pride, but many people do not celebrate it, or do not know what it means, said Coddett, but she hopes to increase awareness of the Pan-African holiday, through events like the Kwanzaa Crawl and “Kwanzaa, Actually,” a series of short comedy videos she made with comedian Rob Haze.

Coddett, who is of Trinidadian and Guyanese background, was not raised celebrating Kwanzaa, but she began to embrace the holiday recently, seeing it as a way to create something positive within her community. Last year’s Kwanzaa Crawl, where she encouraged drinkers to wear whatever made them feel “black and beautiful,” was an even better experience than she could have hoped for, she said.

“There is something about thousands of black people dressing as black as they want to be, and just being positive,” she said.

This year, the crawl involves 20 bars in Brooklyn, mostly in Clinton Hill and its surrounding neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Prospect Heights — along with eight in Harlem.

Each participant much buy a ticket in advance, choosing one bar as their home base. Crawlers will meet up at a starting point on Eastern Parkway to get a wristband, a special Kwanzaa Crawl cup, a map of the route, and to join their team leader, who will lead a group expedition to the home base bar, and then to three more taverns throughout the day.

Crawlers will not visit all 20 of the participating Kwanzaa Crawl spots, for obvious health and legal reasons, said Coddett, despite the suggestions of some enthusiastic drinkers.

“Sometimes people are like ‘Oh, 20 bars? Are we going to hit all 20 bars?’ That is madness, and a lawsuit waiting to happen,” she said.

At various locations along the crawl, drinkers will learn more about Kwanzaa and have a chance to light the kinara — the holiday candlepiece.

The crawl occurs on the first day of Kwanzaa, which is Umoja or ‘unity.’ This year it falls on a Tuesday, which Coddett says is the best time for a bar crawl.

“It make sense that makes sense that on the day of the principle of unity, everybody is getting together,” she said. “People ask why can’t we do it on the weekend, but [the bars] already have business then — and if we’re trying to get them supplemental income, we want to kick up sales on a day that’s slow.”

“Kwanzaa Crawl” Brooklyn meet-up at St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf (260 Eastern Pkwy. at Classon Avenue in Crown Heights, Dec. 26 at noon. $20.

Harlem meet-up at Harriet Tubman Learning Center (250 W. 127th Street at Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, Dec. 26 at noon. $20.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at
Crawling Brooklyn: Comedian Kerry Coddett led last year’s Kwanzaa Crawl through the screets of Brooklyn. This year’s Crawl returns on Dec. 26.
Deneka Peniston