The River City celebrates African-American culture and heritage


JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Christmas may have passed, but the feast which means the first fruits in Swahili is well underway.

One of the producers of the Kwanzaa Community Celebration kicked off this year’s vacation at the Ritz Theater and said it was the only public celebration of Kwanzaa in River City.

“He celebrates bringing the community together in a very specific way to solve his own problems and move forward together,” said producer Brenda Frinks.

Kwanzaa was originally created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in the 1960s following riots in order to bring African Americans together by remembering their culture.

This holiday takes place from December 26 to January 1 and during this period, seven principles are reflected:

  • Umoja, which means unity

  • Kujichagulia, which means self-determination

  • Ujima is for collective work and responsibility

  • Ujamaa stands for cooperative economy

  • Nia means goal

  • Kuumba is for creativity

  • Imani is faith

On top of that, there is a traditional tabletop display set up every year with several items of importance including …

“Mazao, meaning the harvests, they symbolize the harvest celebrations around the world,” Frinks said. “There is the Mkeka which is the carpet. It is symbolic of traditions and history. Like I said, the kinara the candle holder. The Muhindi which will be the corn which will be on it and which represents the children.

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In addition to these symbols, there is also the cup of unity, Zawadi – which are homemade gifts from family members, knowledge books, black, green and red candles.

“It is important that we pass on the traditions because as a race of African Americans much of our history was erased when we came to this land,” said Frinks.

Finks said it’s important to celebrate Kwanzaa every year as a re-commitment to African-American ancestry.

“It’s kind of like the resolution where you take time with each of these principles that we mentioned and think about it and give it a little respect,” Finks said. “What happened in the past, what is happening in my life now and what I would like to see in the future.”

The Ritz Theater has been hosting this community celebration for over 25 years, an effort to reconnect African Americans to their homelands.

Frinks describes each principle and its specific purpose in the video below:

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Brenda Frinks, one of the producers of Community Kwanzaa Celebration, reflects the principles of Kwanzaa.

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