First day of Kwanzaa celebrated in Holyoke

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass (WWLP) – Thursday marks the first day of Kwanzaa, the African-American Cultural pride holiday founded back in the 1960s, and it has grown significantly here in western Massachusetts.

At the Holyoke City Council Chamber, 14-year-old Hosea Shabazz of Amherst lit the candle for Unity, the first of seven candles representing the seven principals vital to the celebration of life. He would hope to spread the meaning of Kwanzaa to other African-Americans his age.

“I try to reach out to my friends and siblings and talk with them about Kwanzaa and even my close friends and my classmates.”

-Hosea Shabazz, Amherst

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse issued a proclamation saluting the holiday which continues until the end of the year.

“Our office this year worked with community members to bring this event for us to bring together folks who don’t see their cultural traditions reflected.”

-Holyoke Mayor, Alex Morse

Holyoke Kwanzaa organizer Theresa Cooper-Gordon told 22News, Holyoke has made a strong beginning by embracing Kwanzaa so fervently during its first observance in this city.

“This will bring the community together. We represent this again today we’re very happy its the first one, there will be others, that’s right, and we will watch them grow.”

– Holyoke Kwanzaa organizer Theresa Cooper-Gordon

During the final days of 2019, the Pioneer Valley will host further Kwanzaa celebrations, but this year’s inaugural observance coincides with Holyoke’s inaugural event.

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