Caribbean pols extend Kwanzaa greetings

Caribbean American New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
Caribbean American New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Offices of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

Several Caribbean American legislators on Monday began celebrating Kwanzaa by extending greetings to the community.

Kwanzaa, which began on Monday and continues through Jan. 1, is a celebration of African-American culture.

“I want to send love and light to all who begin celebrating Kwanzaa today,” said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “Throughout this celebration, we honor and uplift African American culture and heritage. 

“The seven principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith that we mark each day of Kwanzaa are values to embrace and emulate throughout the year,” added the son of Grenadian immigrants. “During Kwanzaa, we reflect on the example and learn from the model of our ancestors, carrying their legacy and strengthened by their lessons. 

“Bolstered by the seven principles, guided by those who have come before, and strengthened by the many blessings in our lives, in our lives, we can overcome challenges and confront obstacles in the next year as we did in the last,” Williams continued. “In the spirit of Umoja, let us come together with purpose and toward progress. United in spirit, we look ahead with resolve, and move forward with the hope of triumph. Habari Gani.”

Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, noted that the holiday, created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies, is “inspired by the celebrations of the start of the harvest season in Africa, and celebrates history, values, family, community and culture.”

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, wished the community “a Kwanzaa filled with light, joy and purpose.” 

Bichotte Hermelyn said Kwanzaa celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. 

Councilwoman Farah N. Louis, the daughter of Haitian and Bahamian immigrants, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said the principles of Kwanzaa are “deeply rooted in community building and empowerment. 

“Every candle lit is a reminder of how each value works together to strengthen who we are individually, but most importantly, collectively,” she said. 

“This week-long celebration of African-American culture and heritage has instilled the importance of Unity (Umoja), Self-Determination (Kujichagulia), Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima), Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa), Purpose (Nia), Creativity (Kuumba), and Faith (Imani) across familial generations,” Louis added. 

“Kwanzaa’s seven principles and values have been critical in overcoming setbacks to embrace our culture and find ways to create a more fruitful future for all,” she continued. “May the light of the Kinara inspire hope and illuminate the path towards a better tomorrow for our children.”