“Each season and celebration of Kwanzaa reaffirms our commitment as African people to create, celebrate and sustain good in the world. For rightly conceived, the celebration of Kwanzaa is about embracing ethical views and values and practicing principles which are directed toward remaking the world so that the goodness of the world can be shared and enjoyed by us and everyone. Kwanzaa begins with a celebration of ourselves as African people, our families, communities and culture.” Maulana Karenga
Tonight, in celebration of the beginning of Kwanzaa, I share with you a collage of pictures and video clips from this year’s Black Culture Week (BCW), an event sponsored and planned by the Black Student Alliance (BSA). Inaugurated in the fall of 1970, Black Culture Week was designed to showcase the vibrancy and vitality of black cultural traditions in the United States and the larger African diaspora. To their credit, BSA officers and members have done much more than preserve this important tradition. They have also labored diligently to ensure that this annual event reflects the growing diversity of our black community. Taking as its theme, “The New Renaissance,” the 2013 BCW offered students an array of activities, ranging from a showcase and tasting of dishes from South Africa, Ethiopia, the Caribbean, and the United States to a thought-provoking panel on the history and current status of the black athlete at UVA. The latter event featured Akil Mitchell, Henry Coley, Khalek Shepherd, Jessica Caldwell, and Kent Merritt, a Charlottesville native who integrated UVA football in 1970. BCW closed with a well-attended and highly enjoyable poetry slam.
If you are familiar with the history of BSA, then you are well aware of its past efforts to both engage and observe the principles of Kwanzaa/Kawaida theory. As the title of its past publications (UJAMMA and HABARI GANI) make clear, BSA, particularly in the 1980s, viewed itself as a preserver and keeper of our best traditions. Thus, it seems only appropriate to reflect on how current BSA members have sought to uphold the principles celebrated during the important ritual holiday of Kwanzaa. In no way does this hastily compiled video reflect the dynamism of this year’s BCW, but hopefully it provides a glance of the spirit of unity guiding the events.