YOUNGSTOWN - The seven core principles of Kwanzaa did not start with Maulana Karenga some 46 years ago, explained Gladys C. Burnett.
"They are principles that started with our Lord and savior," Burnett said. "They're not new, but they are just as important today as they were back then. And they are just as important today as they were in 1966."
Burnett was part of a group that gathered Sunday evening at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Youngstown to observe Kwanzaa 2012-13. Several days last week various celebrations at area churches highlighted other principles. An event is also scheduled Tuesday at the McGuffey Centre.
?Pauletta Christian, a minister at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, helps 6-year-old Dillon Thompson of Youngstown light a candle in observance of Kwanzaa on Sunday at the Youngstown church.
Photo by Virginia Shank
Sunday marked the fifth day of the week-long holiday, which runs each year from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 and honors African heritage. The celebration culminates with a feast and gift-giving. The Mount Sinai program highlighted the core principle of the fifth day - nia, or purpose.
"What is your purpose?" Burnett asked the small crowd of about 20 people. "It's important to apply today's principle into our lives and look at our purpose."
She explained each of the principles of Kwanzaa - unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith and discussed the importance of applying each concept to individual lives.
If you go
The final day of Kwanzaa 2012-13 will be observed Tuesday with a program highlighting the principle of faith at 5:30 p.m. at the McGuffey Centre, 1649 Jacobs Road, Youngstown. The event will feature African-American vendors, music, dancing and poetry with the Harambee of Youngstown, and Karamu, a community feast with those attending asked to bring a covered dish.
Burnett also explained what principle each candle of the kinara, or candleholder, represents. During Kwanzaa seven candles are placed in the kinara - three red on the left, three green on the right, and a single black candle in the center. The seven candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa. During Kwanzaa, a new candle is lit on the kinara each day. The center black candle is lit first, and the lighting alternates between the red and green candles beginning with the outermost red candle and moving toward the center.
Red, green, and black are the symbolic colors of the holiday. Paulette Christian, a minister at Mount Sinai, explained that each color also has a meaning: black for the African race; red for African blood shed; and green for the land of Africa.
The evening included a combined cultural and gospel celebration during which the church youth group presented a holiday puppet program featuring Christmas carols.
"One of the most important things we need to know that we, our people, and all of God's people, need to help each other, to recognize where our life comes from and that is Jesus Christ," Christian said. "All of these principles of Kwanzaa are important ones. But the most important thing for all of us to remember is that our faith is in Christ Jesus."