Kwanzaa celebration pays tribute to history through music

December 26, 2012 9:15:11 PM PST
The day after Christmas marks the first day of the African American celebration of Kwanzaa. A tribute to the African heritage of America's music drew a sold-out crowd in Sausalito.

From drums to jazz and of course, gospel, music tells a timeline of the African-American struggle. So with poetry and dancing, E.W. Wainwright's band, the African Roots of Jazz, began the weeklong celebration of Kwanzaa with a musical journey through time.

Few in the crowd remember when the blues were born. At the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, the audience was largely kids -- many who've never seen a performance quite like this.

"For her to hear real music and get out, and you know, it's not just kid stuff, it's for everyone," said Ben Sigman, a father.

And so are the seven principles Kwanzaa celebrates, which include unity, creativity, and faith.

Kwanzaa started in 1965 right after the Watts Riots, as a way to bring the black community together. Now more than 40 years later, there's an effort to broaden its reach as a universal celebration of unity and victory over adversity.

"Because it's based on principles, it's a holiday for everybody on the planet Earth," said E.W. Wainwright.

How appropriate that the first day of Kwanzaa celebrates umoja -- or unity -- and what better example than music?

"I think that it's just something that's in our soul and it doesn't require any sort of language. It is a language all on its own," said Rose Kelly from the Bay Area Discovery Museum.

"And when we recognize that, we can come together as one, one umoja, one unity, one community," said Destiny Muhammad, a musician.


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