BROOKLYN OBSERVES KAWANZAA IN MANY WAYS, both public and private. Since interest in the new celebration peaked in the 1990s, it remains a part of Brooklyn’s holiday season. Starting Dec. 26, many Brooklyn families set out a special table at home and light the kinsara candles to commemorate the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
On Monday, Dec.17, at Long Island University’s Kumble Theater, in morning and afternoon programs master storyteller Queen Nur will take her audiences on a journey through the seven principles of Kwanzaa in story, song, call and response, dance and drumming. Queen Nur (that is her professional name: privately, she is Karen Abdul-Malik) has practiced her storytelling arts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in the New York City parks programs, and many places around the country, including the Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center in Camden, NJ. She received her B.S.from Northeastern University and has taken post-graduate courses in African-American Studies and Folklore at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania. She now teaches Storytelling at Rutgers Camden’s Artist/Teacher Institute.
Kwanzaa, a secular celebration of African heritage intended to codify and strengthen values for the American black community, was established in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a black nationalist activist-turned-scholar who earned a Ph.D. from the University of California/Los Angeles, with a dissertation titled Maat, the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt: A Study in Classical African Ethics. Dr. Karenga now chairs the Africana Studies Department at California State University, in Long Beach.
Karenga figures in The Black Candle, a documentary about the origins of Kwanzaa narrated by Maya Angelou that was premiered last month on the Starz channel (on-demand TV) and will be shown again on Dec. 26 and 30.