The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

‘A lot of people are going to have fun’, Kwanzaa Celebration set for Dec. 9 at NKU

The celebration will be held at 3 p.m. in LA 110

December 8, 2021

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Mildred Nguyen

Alex Gilmore (left) and Miles Johnson (right) pose with Kwanzaa candles.

A Kwanzaa Celebration is going to be held Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. in room 110 of Landrum Academic Center by students on the Black Studies Program Committee. The event aims to provide a welcoming environment for African American students and to further the integration of Black Studies into Northern Kentucky University’s curriculum.

According to the official Kwanzaa website, Kwanzaa is an African American and pan-African holiday that takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, with each day dedicated to one of the Nguzo Saba – Seven Principles – that guide the celebration.

Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach. It bases its model on African harvest festivals, specifically the “first-fruits” celebrations of various African societies.

Kwanzaa can be celebrated with gatherings, feasts, dance, music, poetry and narratives. The celebration at NKU will feature speakers, student performances, dance, food and drink, according to sophomore global supply chain management major Alex Gilmore, one of the organizing students.

“We talked to Dr. [Michael] Washington and he brought up a school celebration,” Gilmore said. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we do a celebration for the whole campus?’ and it just got bigger and bigger.”

According to Dr. Burke Miller, chair and associate professor of History in the Department of History and Geography, the Kwanzaa was originally intended for the BLS 100 – Introduction to Black Studies general education course.

“It’s nice that the students put in the effort to do something like this,” Miller said. “First it was for the class, then we opened it up and invited the whole university to participate.”

The event is entirely organized and directed by students, Miller added. They just came to him for help with obtaining supplies and rooms to meet in.

In a speech prepared for the event, the Kwanzaa Celebration is stated to serve three purposes: to help African American students feel welcomed in a predominantly white university, to show the power of African American culture in creating justice and social change by advocating for the curriculum to be more inclusive of Black history and culture, and to transform the General Education curriculum by encouraging and supporting faculty in proposing Black Studies courses in every general education category.

“It’s something I’m passionate about,” Gilmore said. “I’m fighting for something that matters to me.”

According to Gilmore, preparations for the event began in mid-October, where the biggest challenges were getting everybody involved and making sure everyone got a chance to participate.

Attendance at the Kwanzaa might be affected by its being held so close to finals week, but Gilmore hoped that it could provide an opportunity for students to relax before finals.

“It’s a de-stress event before all the studying,” said Miles Johnson, a sophomore communication studies major and fellow student organizer.

For future events, the Black Studies Program Committee is planning to collaborate with the Department of History and the African American Student Initiatives to sponsor a Martin Luther King Program in January 2022, followed by a talent show in February – Black History Month.

Miller said that he appreciates the students’ effort and encouraged them to keep playing this important leadership role for other students.

“We keep asking students to take responsibility for their education, and this is an example of students doing just that,” Miller said.

Gilmore and Johnson are looking forward to everyone joining the Kwanzaa Celebration. “A lot of people are going to have fun and [be] involved,” Gilmore said.

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