Over 100 local members of Southwest and West Philadelphia families turned out for the annual Kwanzaa Celebration at the Kingsessing Recreation Center at 51st Street and Kingsessing Avenue. It was hosted by the Southwest Philadelphia District Services organization (SWPDS) and MC’d by Erick Grimes, “Brother Shomari,” author, activist, and star of his show on WRUD Radio on Fridays from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Fridays.
The gala festival celebrating Black values and traditions began with a spirited signing of the “black national anthem,” Lift Every Voice and Sing by the brothers James and John Johnson. The moment was further dignified by the lighting of ceremonial candles.
Mama Maisha and Sister Milele of the Kwanzaa Cooperative provided community information and further dignified the moment by the lighting of ceremonial candles. This was followed by a demonstration of self-defense measures, “You Are Worth It!” presented by Richard Oliver of the Parapet Group. Emphasized throughout were the Kwanzaa “Nguzo Saba” seven principles, Umoja (Unity), Kujichangulia (Collective Work), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).
An important contribution to the afternoon’s activities was provided by Rare Genius hip-hop, a soul and Afro-beat ensemble who provided a cultural arts performance and participatory drum playing. Later they led the singing of redemption and freedom songs.
Following his opening welcome, Brother Shomari kept the entertainment rolling and conducted a “Kwanzaa Quizzo” with lots of fun and great prizes. He also introduced the final highlight, a heartwarming address by retiring City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.
SWPDS executive Mike Ross extended his deep appreciation to the wonderful program participants and to the men and families of District Services.
(Information and photo for this article was graciously provided by Mike Ross)