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Kwanzaa is here

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December 28, 2007

Albany -- Now that Christmas has come and gone, many of you are waiting until New Year's Eve to celebrate again. But many people are still celebrating today.

Kwanzaa is a seven-day cultural commemoration that started during the civil rights movement. One Albany woman says the principles of Kwanzaa are ones everyone should live by.

Daaiyah Salaam reads with her son a lesson she hopes will stick.

"We are actually on our 3rd day of Kwanzaa."

She celebrated the seven days of Kwanzaa as a child. Passing it on, she feels, is her duty.

"I think that's something our youth is missing today. As someone who grew up like that, I think its my responsibility and my obligation to teach it to my son."

To teach him seven principles that can be followed anytime of the year. Each day of Kwanzaa represents an idea - concepts like unity, self-determination, purpose, and faith.

"Today is all about understanding what I can do to help my community."

For Salaam, it's personal.

"Kwanzaa is a time of reflection for me."

The non-religious celebration was inspired by African-Americans and people of African descent who felt it important to renew one's mind, body, and soul.

"Commemorating our culture and our heritage gives us strength, it gives me pride, it gives me self pride. It's a way of celebrating our struggles, as well as our victories."

And carrying it on to future generations, like her son who proudly wears his African t-shirt.

"Knowing our heritage. Already, that's his favorite shirt."

Because through it, he recalls who he is, where he came from, and where he's going. 

Kwanzaa started the day after Christmas and wraps up on New Year's Day. That's when participants reflect on their faith in each other. It usually culminates with a feast.

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