TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The week-long celebrations for Kwanzaa are underway across the Tampa Bay area.

Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday that began in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. He was an African-American author, professor and activist who wanted to unite and empower the Black community after the deadly Watts Rebellion in Los Angeles.

Kiva Williams, founder of the Mahogany Kids Fine Arts Foundation has been celebrating Kwanzaa since she was a little girl.

“My dad would always celebrate Kwanzaa with all of us, so now it feels good to do it with my kids and my family,” Williams said.

Williams appreciates the holiday because it brings her closer to her African background.

“It started for African-Americans in the US to learn about their African ancestry, some of us don’t know our generational ties to an African country, but we can all celebrate the traditions that they do over there,” she said.

Kwanzaa begins December 26th and lasts until January 1st. Kwanzaa is a time to remember the past and celebrate African-American culture. Seven principles, known as nguzo saba, form the core of Kwanzaa.

  • Unity (Umoja)
  • Self determination (Kujichagulia)
  • Collective work and responsibility (Ujima)
  • Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa)
  • Purpose (Nia)
  • Creativity (Kuumba)
  • Faith (Imani)

Each day, people light a candle on the kinara to honor that principle.

Families that participate support Black-owned businesses throughout the week, attend community celebrations, have gatherings at their homes and participate in Karamu, which is a feast often taking place on the sixth day.

Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but rather a celebration of culture, family, values, tradition, and love. It is a holiday that anyone can celebrate, regardless of skin color.

Local Celebrations:

Kwanzaa St. Pete:

Kwanzaa St. Pete puts on daily events to honor the holiday

African-American Heritage Society of East Pasco County, Inc.:

Wednesday, December 28 @ 6 P.M.
Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima)
Presenter & Entertainment: TBA
– Hosts: Freeman Bennett, Rev. Dr. Emery Ailes & Imani D. Asukile
Noble Senior Living at Brooksville
307 Howell Avenue, Brooksville, FL 34601

Thursday, December 29 @ 7 P.M.
Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa)
Presenter & Entertainment: TBA
– Hosts: TBA
36712 Jefferson Ave., Dade City, FL 33523

Friday, December 30 @ 3 P.M.
Purpose (Nia)
Presenter & Entertainment: TBA
– Host: Reverend Dr. Emery Ailes
Frederick Kelly Elk Lodge 1270
510 MLK Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34601

Saturday, December 31@ 4 P.M.
Creativity (Kuumba)
Presenter & Entertainment: TBA
– Hosts: Eric Mukasa & Angela Redmond Theodore
37207 Long Ave., Dade City, FL 33523

Sunday, January 1
Imani (Faith)
Day of Meditation and Reflection
Kwanzaa celebrants are asked to observe
a quiet day of reflection at home.