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Kwanzaa kicks off in Knoxville with week full of events

Knoxville will have a week of events centered around Kwanzaa principles like unity, self-determination as well as collective work and responsibility.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Kwanzaa began on Dec. 26, celebrating African culture and the principles surrounding it. The celebrations last a week, with each day highlighting a specific value.

On the first day, Dec. 26, groups celebrate 'Umoja,' or unity. This year, Divine Urban eXpressions and Turn Up Knox will host the seventh annual Community Coming Together Celebration, called "Love is the Answer," at The Social Gathering at 3906 MLK Avenue in Knoxville.

The next day, Dec. 27, they will celebrate 'Kujichagulia,' which roughly translates to self-determination. The Jabri Family will host an event at the Birdhouse at 6 p.m. where people can share their stories of why they celebrate Kwanzaa. Knoxville Kwanzaa said people's stories will be featured in an upcoming documentary.

After that, on Dec. 28, the Wilson Family will celebrate 'Ujima,' which stands for collective work and responsibility, with a Facebook live stream at 6 p.m. On Dec. 29, another Facebook live stream will be held at 6 p.m. to celebrate 'Ujamma,' which highlights the principle of cooperative economics. 

The day before New Year's Eve highlights 'Nia,' which represents a person's personal purpose. For this, The Bottom will host a Black creatives meetup and workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. to explore the history and purpose of Kwanzaa, as well as to show people how to create a Kinara candle holder. 

On New Year's Eve, Creative Community Cultural Arts will host an event at the Change Center in Knoxville to celebrate "Kuumba," which means creativity. On New Year's Day, Knoxville Kwanzaa will celebrate "Imani," which means faith, with an event at the Social Gathering from 5 to 9 p.m.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga in California who wanted to bring African-American communities together. The name translates to 'first fruits' in Swahili, according to officials.

Love is the Answer's Felicia Outsey said people first observed and celebrated Kwanzaa more than 50 years ago in the U.S.

"It is a celebration of us as a people and those who came before us so that we can continue to go forward and we won't forget the greatness that we came from," Outsey said.

Kwanzaa is a time of communal self-affirmation when famous black heroes and respected community members are celebrated.

"For the non-African Americans, it's very important for them to understand that all the support and love is needed in order for this community to reach it's greatness," Outsey said.

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