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Lake Effect’s Joy Powers chats with Venice Williams, the executive director of Alice’s Garden and the Fondy Food Center, about gardening, herbal remedies and healthy cooking.

Dig In!: Celebrating the first fruits of the past year during Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa decorative concept
Olga Khomyakova/Alisa
Adobe Stock
Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 through January 1.

The holiday season is often dominated by Christmas celebrations, but that’s just one of the many holidays people celebrate this time of year. Over the past few decades, Kwanzaa has become near and dear to the heart of Lake Effect contributor Venice Williams.

Williams, executive director of Alice’s Garden and the Fondy Food Center, shares some Kwanzaa history.

Kwanzaa was first celebrated on December 26, 1966, in Los Angeles, California, by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, she explains. "He wanted a celebration of African American families and community that really focused on who we have been, not just in, you know, in the world, but especially in this country related to food and culture, economics, politics, faith," Williams says. "He really wanted to create something that would bring families and the community and neighborhoods together to say, 'We have cause to celebrate our journey.'"

The word "Kwanzaa" means first fruit, and one of the principles of Kwanzaa is "kujichagulia." Williams says, "[It] means self determination — to define ourselves, to name ourselves, to create a path for ourselves."

Each year, Kwanzaa starts on December 26 and goes until January 1 and, Williams shares, involves such delicacies as African peanut stew, greens, black eyed peas, corn pudding, and sweet potatoes and carrots from the garden.

On the second day of Kwanzaa this yera, there's an event at the Sherman Phoenix from noon until 7 p.m. featuring music, dances, games, workshops and conversations.

And, for anyone who wants to learn more about Kwanzaa, Williams recommends reading The Complete Kwanzaa: Celebrating Our Cultural Harvest by Dorothy Winbush Riley and A Kwanzaa Keepsake by Jessica B Harris.


Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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