St. Pete Youth Farm kicks off weeklong Kwanzaa celebrations

Monday marks the first day of Kwanzaa, the holiday celebrating African American and pan-African culture.

The seven-day celebration is observed every year from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, families and communities organize activities around "The Seven Principles."

Those principles are Unity (Umoja), Self-Determination (Kujichagulia), Collective Responsibility (Ujima), Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa), Purpose (Nia), Creativity (Kuumba) and Faith (Imani).

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"It's not a religious celebration. It is cultural in nature. And the world has been exposed to the culture of African people forever," Carla Bristol, the collaboration manager at the St. Pete Youth Farm, said.

The St. Pete Youth Farm will kick off Kwanzaa to celebrate Unity with the backdrop of the harvest. The dinner served will feature food grown on the farm.

"We're going to make sure the colors of the feast represent the colors of Kwanzaa, you know, the red for the struggles, the black for the unity, which is the candle we will light tonight and the green for the abundance and the future," Bristol said.

The St. Pete Youth Farm started to address food and nutrition insecurity. Bristol said she works to share the principles of Kwanzaa with the youth all the time.

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"Doing the agricultural work and recognizing that Kwanzaa itself as a festival is about the harvest. And so here we are being able to do it at a farm where young people actually help plant and harvest and participate in every single thing that goes on here. So, these are just additional traditions that we're instilling in our youth," Bristol said.

Kiva Williams is the founder of the Mahogany Kids Fine Arts Foundation and works to bring the meaning of Kwanzaa to the area as well. She co-founded the Tampa Bay Black Excellence challenge which supports Black-owned businesses and for her family that support starts at home.

"The very first principle is the major one that I try to hone in on. It's unity. So, from day one, we celebrate unity in our family. It's a family dinner sometimes," Williams said.

She will host a Kwanzaa Celebration Museum Field Trip this Friday.  For more information, click here. For more information about the Kwanzaa celebrations in St. Pete, click here