Nov. 21, 2007
Kwanzaa creator Maulana Karenga will share the principles of the African-American holiday during the 15th annual Kwanzaa Festival from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 1 at HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College.

In addition, community members who demonstrate the principles of Kwanzaa will be honored with HACC's annual Harambee Recognition Awards.

Admission is free to the traditional holiday festival that includes music, dance, food, storytelling, a fashion show, ethnic merchandise marketplace and health screenings. Special activities for children will be offered from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The event will be held at the Cooper Student Center on the Harrisburg Campus, One HACC Drive.

Karenga, a professor in the department of Black studies at California State University at Long Beach, held the first Kwanzaa in 1966. He will join community members in the opening of HACC's Kwanzaa Festival at 9 a.m. with libations (remembrance of those who came before us). His talk follows with a discussion of the seven principles of the holiday as "Creating a Shared Good in the World." During the festival Karenga will also be available to sign copies of his new book.

The ceremony will continue with the Black Achievers of Camp Curtin YMCA joining Karenga to light the traditional red, green and black candles.

"It is an honor to have Dr. Karenga with us for our 15th. Annual Kwanzaa celebration," said Robert William, director of HACC's Office of Multicultural Affairs/International Education which sponsors Kwanzaa. "HACC's Kwanzaa festival has become an important tradition for us at the college and the surrounding community. It is really special that we can welcome Dr. Karenga back to HACC and the Harrisburg community all the way from Long Beach, California, and to hear from his heart and soul as the creator of Kwanzaa."

William said the college schedules the festival before the end of the semester so students as well as the community can become aware of the principles of Kwanzaa.

"Through this festival we hope to increase the community's awareness of HACC and the understanding of and respect for people of all races and cultures," said Patricia Thompson, festival coordinator. "There are many possibilities for enrichment and to understand various cultures as long as we are receptive."

Guest host Valerie Pritchett, evening news anchor for WHTM-ABC27, will present the eighth annual Harambee Recognition Awards. This year's recipients are:

  • Dr. Donald Spigner of Harrisburg will receive the Ujima (collective work and responsibility) award. He is president, CEO and practitioner of Community Medical Associates in Harrisburg and has done extensive work in sickle cell research.
  • Ernestine Hunter of Harrisburg will receive the Ujama (cooperative economics) award. She is a teacher for the Harrisburg School District and has been director and teacher for the Pennsylvania Career Program for Youth for more than 16 years. She established, with Harrisburg High School students, the school's Expressions from "You" gift shop.
  • Pearl Sweeting of Harrisburg will receive the Nia (purpose) award. A retired state police officer, she is a leader in Girl Scouts of the Heart of Pennsylvania and volunteer for the Caring Place in Lemoyne. Sweeting also worked in the Harrisburg School District as a life skills facilitator.
  • The Rev. Lavette Paige of Steelton will receive the Imani (faith) award. Paige, pastor of Martin Luther King Jr. Baptist Church in Harrisburg, is in her second year as a doctoral candidate at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster.
  • Writers and poets Richard James of Harrisburg and his daughter, Maria James of Wormleysburg, will receive the Kuumba (creativity) award. He is owner/curator of Omari's Place, the World African Museum and Marketplace in Middletown. She is a professor at Central Penn College.
  • Roshaye Johnson of Harrisburg will receive the Kujichagulia (self-determination) award. A teacher at Foose Elementary School, she is a recipient of an Essence of Humanity Award from Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed.
  • Sonya Toler, director, and Jennifer Kyung, assistant director, of the Governor's Advisory Commission on African American Affairs will receive the Umoja (unity) award. They developed the commission's business exchange breakfast to bring businesses and entrepreneurs together. Toler splits her time between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and Kyung resides in Harrisburg.
  • Felicia Brown Haywood, Ph.D., will receive the Nguzo Saba (overall) award. She is director of student affairs at Penn State Harrisburg.

The festival continues after the awards ceremony with performances by Jazz with Jimmy Wood and Friends, Imani-Edutainers African Dance Company of Lancaster, step groups Southside Steppers from Crispus Attucks of York and Diamond Steppers of the Camp Curtin YMCA, African drumming by Nayo, a fashion show by ABW Productions and Writer's Wordshop. DJ Brian Thompson will provide music between performances.

SuperReader Floyd Stokes will be among the entertainment at the children's corner in Room 204, Second Floor, of the Cooper Center between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. He also will be on the main stage at noon.

Free health screenings will include blood pressure performed by HACC respiratory care students, glaucoma by the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind and cancer by the Central Pennsylvania Oncology Group.

For more information, call 780-3276 or send an e-mail to Maribel Gonzalez in HACC's office of Multiculural Affairs by clicking on her e-mail address below.

Fast facts About Kwanzaa
In 1966, Maulana Karenga marked the first Kwanzaa celebration, which coincides with the first harvest celebrations of Africa held between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits" in Swahili, the most widely spoken African language. The first-fruits celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt.

Today the celebration and principles are tied to strengthening communities and reaffirming common identity, purpose and direction as a people and a world community.

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