Campus Life

Stockton’s Unified Black Students Society hosts Pre-Kwanzaa celebration

On Friday, December 2, the 47th annual Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration was held in the Campus Center Event Room. The Unified Black Students Society hosted this event. Stockton Alumni, students, and community members gathered to dance, sing the Black National Anthem, and feast. Kwanzaa is celebrated every year between December 26 and January 1, but the organizers of the event knew the importance of sharing their traditions with those who have not yet experienced the cultural holiday.

Attendees engage in festivities at Stockton’s Pre-Kwanzaa celebration. Photo courtesy of Rachel Rolle.

Kwanzaa is often mistaken for a “Black Christmas” or a political holiday, although it is neither. The red, green, and black colors of the seven Kwanzaa candles on display represent black liberation. It asks communities to come together to celebrate the best of their characteristics. Professor of Africana Studies Dr. Allison remarked “I look forward to it every year!.. It’s always a big event and a lot of people come out,” Normally, she “gives [her] students credit for coming, participating, and writing about it,” She hopes her students realize the importance of the “celebration of African/American-African culture.”

Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies Dr. Patricia Reid welcomed her community, dressed in traditional fabrics. She greeted the crowd by saying “Habari Gani,” which means “What’s the News?” in Swahili. This question is usually asked by the elders of the community and is directed to the young members. On Kwanzaa, the common response is “Umoja” meaning “Unity.” The key part of the holiday is togetherness. The black candle is positioned to signify just that.

Attendees dance together. Photo courtesy of Rachel Rolle.

To further emphasize the importance of paying respect to elders, Dr. Patricia Reid asked everyone above the age of fifty to stand, then sixty, and so on until one elder was left remaining; her husband, at the age of eighty-four. The crowd congratulated him, but Dr. Reid did not continue the celebration until she asked the elder in the room if “the celebration could go on?” Without hesitation, Mr. Reid urged for the celebration to resume.

“Planning was probably one of the most difficult parts,” stated Anthony Brooks, President of the Black Students Society. “Seeing all the performances, the drummers, [and] seeing the energy that people give off … I just think it is a good experience that a lot of black students should come and see for [themselves],” he added. After a series of dances and the Drummer’s tribute, the celebration came to an end.