Columbia’s Kwanzaa Exhibition Celebrates African American Culture | Missouri News
COLUMBIA – Columbia Parks and Recreation hosted a Kwanzaa celebration on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Armory Sports Center.
The celebration included a black-owned trade show, Kunama Mtendaji Entertainment, and a holiday feast.
Kwanzaa is a traditional celebration of African American life that begins on December 26 each year and lasts until January 1. It has been celebrated in the United States since 1966.
Columbia Parks and Rec invited 12 different black-owned businesses to the event as well as local artist Kunama Mtendaji.
Columbia Parks and Recreation Specialist Jay Bradley said he added the exhibit this year to honor one of Kwanzaa’s Seven Principles: Economic Cooperation.
“Parks and Recreation has been hosting the Kwanzaa celebration since the early ’90s,” Bradley said, “but this year we added the Black Owned Business Fair.”
Many types of businesses were in attendance at the event, including candle makers, clinical social workers, and cosmetologists.
A social worker in attendance said employing people of color is a priority.
“We are hiring clinicians of color to meet the needs of our black and brown community,” said Christine Woods.
Woods said his company, Crowned Counseling, was focused on expanding mental health resources and shedding light on mental health issues within the black community.
“We know there is a growing need for Black mental health clinicians and a growing need for therapy, so we’re here to meet that need,” she said.
Another business owner, Maronica Kitchen, runs a counseling agency called Ronnie-Beyond, where she provides help filling out Medicaid information, food stamps, employment, and more.
“Sometimes people don’t have the resources they need because they don’t understand how to navigate the system and they’re frustrated with it,” Kitchen said. “I’m just saying to these people, ‘let’s come together and get you what you need’, and at the same time, I’m teaching them to do things on their own.”
Another business owner, Brittany Hilderbrand, owns Writer’s Block, a small shop that helps people improve their writing and reading skills.
She said she was very grateful to have been invited to the event to advertise her work.
“I am delighted to offer writing services to people who need it,” said Hilderbrand. “It is a very critical skill that you need in every profession.”
The Kwanzaa celebration ended with a live music performance and a free holiday feast.
For those who cannot attend the event, Kwanzaa celebration bags are available for purchase. These bags contain instructions and supplies needed to organize your own traditional Kwanzaa celebration. Bags can be purchased for $ 5 each at the Armory Sports Center.