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Philadelphia Community Leaders Plan a Revitalized Kwanzaa Celebration

(Kenny Gamble, left, and Oshunbumi Fernandez, at the KYW Newsradio studios.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(Kenny Gamble, left, and Oshunbumi Fernandez, at the KYW Newsradio studios. Photo by Cherri Gregg)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tomorrrow, December 26th, marks the first day of Kwanzaa, and community groups in Philadelphia are gearing up for a big celebration on Saturday.

The goal is to empower the African-American community by breathing new life into a holiday that was slowly slipping into oblivion.

“There’s so much violence, and I think Kwanzaa has some of the remedies that our community needs,” says Kenny Gamble, legendary Philadelphia music producer and founder of the nonprofit Universal Companies.

But if you ask many African-Americans these days about Kwanzaa, they’ll tell you they do not celebrate the cultural holiday.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 as the first holiday to specifically celebrate the culture of African-Americans.  But over the years, enthusiasm over the holiday has waned.

“I wouldn’t say that it went away, it’s just been kind of low key,” says Gamble.  “There have been a few local celebrations, but we want to raise the awareness of the seven principles.”

The weeklong celebration begins tomorrow and includes a daily candle-lighting ceremony that is centered around seven principles — one each day: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).

This year, for the first time, Gamble has teamed up with Oshunbumi Fernandez, CEO of Odunde Inc., to create the inaugural “Kwanzaabration” at Universal Audenried Charter High School, 33rd and Tasker Streets.

“We are turning the Universal Audenried Charter High School into a small African village,” says Fernandez.  “Children can come and do arts and crafts, Kwanzaa-themed face painting, and also a moon bounce just to keep them entertained.  And while the children are entertained, the parents can come and get free health screenings.”

The free event will include a fashion show and music.  It runs from 10am to 5pm on Saturday.  For more information, go to kwanzaabration.org.

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