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How celebrating Kwanzaa in 2020 looked and felt different this year

Unlike Christmas and Hannakuh, Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Once Christmas is over, many people are ready to fast forward to New Year's Eve. However, between those two holidays is another celebration -- Kwanzaa.

Unlike Christmas and Hannakuh, Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday and was founded in the United States in the 1960s to celebrate Black heritage and culture.

Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days and each day, a key principle is spotlighted:

  1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle

"These are live-by principles," Evelyn Cooper, Lotts of Art owner said. 

Lotts of Art is an afrocentric boutique in Corpus Christi which would normally be host to large community events for Kwanzaa but this year, Cooper said she has had to downsize because of the pandemic. 

Always in attendance to Cooper's large Kwanzaa events is Camille Sneed.

Sneed decorates her home and follows other Kwanzaa traditions that she said she wants to pass down to her son, Cameron. Many of the traditions, however, are normally done in-person. Sneed said she has been watching Kwanzaa videos and has found groups online to connect with.

"Which I thought was so huge and so wonderful that somebody thought of that, so I was already prepared to bring those into our home," Sneed said.

Sneed said COVID-19 isn't the only thing impacting Kwanzaa this year. The surge in social injustice and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement emphasized the importance of the Kwanzaa principles.

Sneed said that is something she is reinforcing in her son. 

"I know you see what is going on and I know it hurts," Sneed said. "I know it's not easy to understand, but we have to be self-determined to move forward and always trust and believe that there is better."

Kwanzaa takes place from December 26 to January 1.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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