Kansas Governor Laura Kelly celebrates Kwanzaa with the African-American community

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Governor Laura Kelly celebrated Kwanzaa with the African-American community Monday at the Kansas State House.

Reverend Shirley D. Heermance of St. Mark’s AME Church gave the opening prayer and moderated the afternoon event.

Governor Laura Kelly was the guest of honor and helped light the Kinara. The Kinara has seven candles, three red on the left, three green on the right, and a single black candle in the center. The seven candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Red, green and black are the symbolic colors of the holiday.

Stacey Knoell, Executive Director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission, addressed the audience and gave a brief history of the Kwanzaa celebration.

Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a community holiday called karamu. Kwanzaa was established by teacher and activist Maulana Karenga in 1966. The celebration is based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of Africa and was first celebrated in 1966.

During Kwanzaa week, a new candle is lit on the kinara each day. The central black candle is lit first, then the ignition continues from left to right, the new candle being lit corresponding to the principle of this day. Thus, each day of Kwanzaa is devoted to the contemplation of one of the Seven Principles.

Each of the candles also has a meaning. The black symbolizes the African people, the red their struggle and the green the future and the hope that comes from their struggle.

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