SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Monday is the first day of Kwanzaa!

The week-long holiday celebrates African and African-American culture and community. Each day of Kwanzaa is devoted to one of seven principles, with Monday’s principle being Umoja or Unity.

“Kwanzaa is a celebration of African American Culture which runs between December 26th through January 1st,” Keshawn Dodds, the Executive Director stated. “This is a great way for our community to learn, and understand the importance of the principles of Kwanzaa, as well as supporting our community of black business owners. There will also be live performances and lectures for the listening audience. This event has grown to see well over 300 people come through to celebrate together.”

On Monday, the Boys and Girls Club Family Center on Acorn Street in Springfield hosted a citywide Kwanzaa celebration.

“Each day we represent a different principal, and today of course is Umoja, which means unity. To strive making unity in our community, with coming together, building community, we’re building towards sustainability,” said Ayanna Crawford, Vice Chair of Kwanzaa Collaborative.

“The theme of this years Kwanzaa Celebration is remembering yesterday and building for tomorrow,” organizer Darryl Moss states. “It is important that we gather in remembrance of those who sacrificed much and worked tirelessly to create a foundation to help our community forge forward, so we remember yesterday. It is equally important that we assemble to create a template of empowerment to build a stronger community for those who come behind us. Kwanzaa gives us a blueprint in terms of effectively using the Nguzu Saba principles as both marker and benchmark to build, strengthen, and sustain our efforts.” 

Each passing day during the celebration of tradition and family values brings new emphasis.