Johnson House Historic Site hosts annual Kwanzaa celebration [Video]

The Johnson House Historic Site held its annual Kwanzaa celebration in Germantown on Thursday night.

Community members turned out to the house, located on Germantown Ave. near Washington Lane, for the second night of the holiday for African storytelling, African drumming, crafts and a tour.

Storytellers Denise Valentine and Saundra “Momma Sandi” Gilliard from Keepers of the Culture explained the seven principles of Kwanzaa while members of the Temple University’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program drum ensemble kept time.

Momma Sandi lit the first two candles of the kinara. (In all, there are seven; one is black to symbolize unity, three are red to represent struggle and three are green for life and the land.)

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“It is a celebration of a lot of stories in Africa, and it tells about the importance of family and community,” said Board President Patricia Bass. “I think that’s really why we feel it’s so important to do this here at Johnson House.”

Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass said that, for her, Christmas and Kwanzaa go hand-in-hand as times to reflect on faith and struggle.

“As I look into the new year,” she said, “it feels good to be here.”

Germantown High senior Aliyah Muhammad received special recognition from Johnson House Executive Director Cornelia Swinson for her work in crafting a new tour of the historic site.

Swinson stressed the importance of teaching kids about Kwanzaa at a young age by using music and holiday related crafts to educate them on the celebration’s principles, which Swinson said “are everyday things.”

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