27 Dec


Office of the Press Secretary


December 26, 2012


Statement from the President and the First Lady on Kwanzaa


Michelle and I extend our warm thoughts and best wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today marks the first day of the week-long celebration of African-American history and culture through the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.


To many, Kwanzaa serves as a time of reflection–taking lessons learned from our past and looking forward to a more promising tomorrow. It reminds us that though there is much to be thankful for we must recommit ourselves to building a country where all Americans have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.


As families across America light the Kinara today in the spirit of unity, our family extends our prayers and well wishes during this season.

[Kwanza, a 7 day festival inspired by the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and based on ancient African celebrations, is a holiday created in 1966 to bring African-American communities together that includes aspects of various harvest celebrations. Kwanza was created by Maulana Karenga, chairman of the Department of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach, an African-American scholar and activist, following the Watts riot. Karenga revolves around five principles (a) the ingathering of family, friends, and community; (b) reverence for the creator and creation (including thanksgiving and recommitment to respect the environment and heal the world); (c) commemoration of the past (honoring ancestors, learning lessons and emulating achievements of African history); (d) recommitment to the highest cultural ideals of the African community (for example, truth, justice, respect for people and nature, care for the vulnerable, and respect for elders); and (e) celebration of the “Good of Life” (for example, life, struggle, achievement, family, community, and culture). ]

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