The Gantt Center will host the first day of Kwanzaa in observance of the principle, Umoja (or unity), on Sunday, December 26.

The afternoon celebration is free and open to the public. The Swahili term, Kwanzaa, means first fruits. Unlike Christmas and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but is based on the year-end harvest festivals held in Africa for thousands of years.

“It’s only fitting that we open the Gantt Center to the public to celebrate the first principle of Kwanzaa, which is unity,” says Gantt Center President & CEO David Taylor. “The Center exists for the entire Charlotte community and we encourage everyone to join us to experience one of the many elements of American culture.”

The Black Candle – which won Best Documentary at the 2009 Africa World Documentary Film Festival in St. Louis and Lagos, Nigeria — is one of the day’s highlights. Directed by M. K. Asante and narrated by Dr. Maya Angelou, the film traces the holiday’s growth from the first celebration in 1966 to its present-day global observance.

Family activities include African drumming, a candle-lighting and libation ceremony, multi-generational Kwanzaa-themed arts & crafts workshops and viewing master artists and craftspeople at work in the Gantt Center’s Grand Lobby. An African dance performance will round out the afternoon.

Kwanzaa observances will be hosted at other locations during the remainder of the week. A full listing of events is on the Gantt Center’s website,

Date: Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
Time: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Place: Gantt Center (551 South Tryon Street)
Cost: Free

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