Seven Principles

Kwanzaa celebrations bring together Evansville organizations.

Kwanzaa is a part of holiday traditions for many Black Americans, including in Evansville. For the past 15 years, the Soul Writers’ Guild — led by guild president Aretha Graves — has hosted Kwanzaa events, a holiday lasting Dec. 26-Jan. 1.

Over the years, different organizations and groups have partnered with the guild to develop local events around the cultural holiday, including the Indiana Democrat African American Caucus, New Hope Baptist Church, and Zion Missionary Baptist Church. This year, the Soul Writers’ Guild has events planned for five of the seven days of Kwanzaa. Each event will begin with a rendition of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Then, a candle will be lit on the Kinara — seven candles for the seven days of Kwanzaa.

On the day their event falls, each host gets to creatively interpret what one of the seven principles means to them. A principle is assigned to each day of Kwanzaa. Still, only five —Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), and Nia (purpose) — will be represented this year. Each event includes light refreshments, but the fifth day features a Karamu, or Kwanzaa feast, of African-inspired dishes hosted by the Soul Writers’ Guild.

These events are free and open to the public and attendees are encouraged to wear their best African-inspired garments.

“We are so proud and grateful to the organizations who have taken up the mantle,” Graves says. “We wanted the community to share the responsibility. We think it will attract more community members when organizations have the freedom to make the Kwanzaa celebration their own.”

Umoja (Unity)
5-7 p.m. Dec. 26, Evansville African American Museum, 579 Sondra Matthews Way
Hosted by the Soul Writers’ Guild

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
2-4 p.m. Dec. 27, New Hope Baptist Church 663 Elliott St.
Hosted by New Hope Baptist Church

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
6-8 p.m. Dec. 28, C.K. Newsome Community Center, 100 E. Walnut St.
Hosted by the Indiana Democrat African American Caucus

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
2-4 p.m. Dec. 29, Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 1800 S. Governor St.
Hosted by Zion Missionary Baptist Church

Nia (Purpose)
12:30-4:30 p.m. Dec. 30, Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library Central Browning Room, 200 S.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Hosted by the Soul Writers’ Guild

The last two principles — Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith) — are not represented at this year’s events, but people are encouraged to celebrate privately.

Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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