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Museum Hosts Kwanzaa Celebration in Monroe

This marks the beginning of the week-long celebration of Kwanzaa.
MONROE -- This week marks the start of Kwanzaa and a local museum is celebrating it with the community.

The Northeast Louisiana Delta African-American Heritage Museum hosted the celebration on Saturday, singing traditional songs, wearing traditional clothes, and lighting the seven Kwanzaa candles explaining what each one means.

The week-long, non-religious holiday was started in 1966 as a way to celebrate African-American cultures and traditions. 

The holiday was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. 

According to the Official Kwanzaa Website, the name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits" in Swahili, a Pan-African language, which is the most widely spoken African language. 

For seven days, Kwanzaa promotes the focus on seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. According to the official website, these values are called the Nguzo Saba, which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. 
The museum director says these celebrations are important to help remember the heritage of the holiday.

"We do this each year to be sure that people come and that the young ones who have not been taught this, know about this, and know that when they step outside the door, they're supposed to represent very well," said director Lorraine Slacks. ""It forms a basis for African-American behavior in the community. It provides for unity and cohesiveness and thinking right and working together."

Local elected officials like Mayor Jamie Mayo and Congressman Vance Mcallister also attended the event.
Museum officers were also sworn in at the celebrations and a new art exhibit featuring seven prominent African Americans in history was unveiled.

Kwanzaa runs through January 1.

Click here to learn much more from the official Kwanzaa Website.
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