Kwanzaa celebration begins, adjusts to safety guidelines

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CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) –Christmas and Hanukkah may be over, but another holiday is just getting started. Today marks the second day of Kwanzaa.

While celebrations may be smaller because of COVID-19, members of the African American community are making sure people can still create lasting memories this year.

Kwanzaa is one of the largest celebrations of African heritage. It is a 7-day holiday that focuses on the importance of family and community.

“Kwanzaa is a very meaningful experience and celebration of culture, ” says Executive Director and Founder of DREAAM Tracy Dace.

It centers around 7 principles, one for each day of the holiday. They include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

“This year in particular, where we’ve faced so many challenges and we found ourselves severed in many ways, because of double pandemics and uniting this country, uniting this community, coming together for things that reminds us of family values and the thing that all of us as humans need right now is so important right now,” says Endalyn Taylor, who is co-planning the Kwanzaa celebration at the University of Illinois.

Kwanzaa is typically filled with singing, dancing and meals, but many of those traditions had to go virtual because of COVID-19.

“We just have to celebrate it this year, but in a different way,” says Dace. “we will not be able to share food, but we definitely will share in the joy of art and community and coming together to celebrate this wonderful African American celebration.”

Tracy Dace says the principles take on a deeper meaning, especially during a pandemic.

“Through this virtual way, we can continue to uplift families and the community and still make those connections and still live out the principles of Kwanzaa,” he says.

The last day of the celebration is January first. There will be an in-person celebration on the 31st at the Illinois Terminal.

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