By Athena Dawson | [email protected]
The day after Christmas marks the start of the weeklong Kwanzaa holiday. To celebrate, the Queens borough president’s office hosted their annual Kwanzaa ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 27, at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center at Queens Borough Hall. The event kicked off with a screening of The Black Candle, a documentary detailing the importance of Kwanzaa and its principles within the Black diaspora. Dozens of people watched solemnly and gathered to eat food provided by the borough hall office. After the screening, audience members stood to sing the Star Spangled Banner and the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice.
Dawn Kelly, a chair member of the African American Heritage Committee, opened the Kwanzaa celebration encouraging audience members to frequent Black owned businesses during the holiday season.
“Tonight we’re going to be celebrating the first fruits of our community. One of the things the movie talked about is, we should use this week to celebrate and frequent small Black owned businesses in our community,” Kelly said.
Following Kelly’s opening remarks, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. briefly spoke about the importance of reflecting on the principles of Kwanzaa.
“We are so happy to be celebrating another program that reflects African American heritage and our diversity here in Queens County. Kwanzaa encourages us to focus on the seven principles, which are important values and ideas to incorporate into our lives all year long,” he said.
Throughout the night, students of the DeVore Dance Center performed riveting modern dance, festive African and hip-hop dance numbers to usher in the celebration. An air of excitement could be felt as parents in the audience cheered students on and recorded the performances.
Towards the end of the ceremony, performers from the Black Spectrum Theatre teased a snippet of their “‘Twas The Night Before Kwanzaa” holiday comedy. Felix Omozusi, who played Brother Kwanzaa, put on an impressive performance tying in each of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Towards the end of his act, he performed a Kinara lighting ceremony at the centerpiece in the middle of the stage. The Kinara is the candle holder that holds all of the seven multicolored candles that represent Kwanzaa. As the ceremony came to a close, the night ended on a high note with a final energetic performance by the DeVore dancers.