Kwanzaa celebration will be held tonight

Jennifer Palicka and Jennifer Palicka

The Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives is hosting the sixth annual Kwanzaa celebration tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom in the Student Union.

The cost for students and children is $5, bursarable, and for non-students $8. This includes a buffet and entertainment. There also will be door prizes and gifts for children.

Kwanzaa is a unique African-American celebration that takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. It is based on seven principles, one for each day of the observance. The University is celebrating the sixth day, Karamu (feast) because winter break falls during the celebration.

Karamu is the feast, creativity and entertainment of Kwanzaa. The feast, provided by University Dining Services, consists of soul foods. The foods that will be available are collard greens, corn bread, macaroni and cheese, fried and baked chicken, baked lasagna, carrot cake, apple pie and cheese cake.

“Dining Services does a very good job with the food. We have gotten good comments on it,” said Sheila Brown, assistant director of the Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives and coordinator of the event.

Brown is expecting at least 500 people to attend tonight’s celebration. At least 300 tickets have already been sold. Tickets can be bought at the door or by calling 372-2642.

The entertainment provided ranges from singing, dancing, music, poetry readings, and story telling.

“This year a young lady is coming in. She is a beautiful and graceful dancer,” Brown said.

A new campus group, African Queens Vocal Ensemble, will be singing during a video salute to African-American males on campus. Brown had went out on campus and took pictures of many African-American males, students, faculty and staff, because this year she wanted to do a tribute to them.

“There are very few [African-American males] and they need to be recognized. I am glad I thought of doing this,” she said. Brown said that in the future she is thinking about doing a tribute to African-American females.

Dr. Sidney Ribeau will speak at the celebration. There will also be University student musicians playing background music throughout the night. The history of Kwanzaa and the presentation of the seven principles will be talked about, also. The African Dance Troupe, made up of University freshmen, high school and middle school students will perform.

Along with them, Master Drummer Habib Iddrisu and the Nannie Grayson Drill Team will perform.

The TIGHT Family Choir from Detroit will be singing gospel numbers. Together in God’s Hands Today is made up of all family members, they are brothers, sisters and cousins. Vendors will be there selling African items and designer clothing and jewelry.

People think of Kwanzaa as just for African-Americans, but it’s not.

“The majority of the people who attend are non-black. The audience is truly diverse,” Brown said.

With co-sponsors such as Pepsi Foundation, the University Bookstore, Dining Services and the Student Union, the production of this year’s Kwanzaa celebration is something that everyone should come out and enjoy, Brown said.