‘Filled with the spirit of unity’: Community members collaborate with us to share cultural heritage

This year’s Community Kwanzaa Celebration will be the third one that Oak Park resident Juanta Griffin has organized at the Main Library. Here, Griffin shares what the celebration means and what she’s looking forward to this year.

“We believe that inclusion fosters understanding, and understanding builds respect, and with respect there can be peace,” she says.

What is Kwanzaa?

“Kwanzaa is a Black American Harvest Celebration,” Griffin says. “It brings the Black community together to celebrate our culture, our accomplishments, and our goals for the future. It is also a time to promote and embrace the creativity of Black, talented young people and entrepreneurs within our village.” 

All are invited to the celebration on Sunday, December 29, 2-5 pm, in the Main Library Veterans Room.

Nguzo Saba

The Nguzo Saba are the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

  • Umoja: Unity 
  • Kujichagulia: Self-determination
  • Ujima: Collective work & responsibility
  • Ujamaa: Cooperative economics)
  • Nia: Purpose
  • Kuumba: Creativity
  • Imani: Faith

“Our program exemplifies creative expressions of the Nguzo Saba,” Griffin says. “Hopefully those who attend leave uplifted and filled with the spirit of unity in their hearts and minds. Our mission is that everyone that attends our program leaves feeling empowered to become the change they want to see in our community and to neighboring communities.”

‘It happens because of us’

“This year I’m looking forward to sharing the work of a young fashion designer,” Griffin says. “She has an Afrocentric clothing line and she will feature her line in our very first fashion show! I’m also excited to see what Donna Callender will choreograph for us with Kuumba Kids! 

“I want to add that most of what we do is because of community volunteers. I could do none of this without the support of the library and the community. This does not happen because of me, it happens because of us!”

Collaborate with us

“As a diverse community, our goal is to live together peacefully,” Griffin says. “Cultural community programming provides the education needed for villagers to share and fellowship with each other in a safe, welcoming environment.”

Are you a community member who would like to co-host a multicultural program with library staff, supported by library resources?

Learn more about the process for community members to collaborate with the library on a multicultural program, and submit your idea through an online form on the library’s website.