Kwanzaa started on Dec. 26th and was celebrated throughout the week, until Jan. 1st and the Yeadon Chapter NAACP, in partnership with the Yeadon Public Library, hosted its condensed, 20th annual celebration with a grand show featuring storytelling, recitation of the holiday’s principles with the lighting of the candles, music and performances and food.
Guests filed into Yeadon Borough Hall’s auditorium and were greeted by a band playing traditional African drums. Robert E. Wright, Sr., first vice president of the NAACP, chairperson of its Education Committee, retired educator and board member of the William Penn School District, dressed in traditional African fashion, properly began the celebration by asking permission from an elder in the crowd to begin. She nodded in approval.
The interactive event began with the crowd praying and singing in unison. The first performance was by Café 3 of the Yeadon Public Library, a young girls’ gospel dance group. Robert E. Wright, Jr. spoke about the origin of Kwanzaa and its meaning, followed by his father, Wright, Sr., telling a classic Aesop fable about ”The Peacock.”
“Aesop was not a European Greek, but an African,” Wright, Sr., told the crowd. “It is important to know our history and prevent it from being rewritten.”
Sandra Brown-Wright, wife of Wright, Sr., and founding member of the Philadelphia Khepera Charter School, led the candle lighting ceremony prefaced by the crowd standing with hands raised, chanting “Harambee!,” Swahili for “pull together.” Then Wright did the recitation of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. During that segment, the crowd was told to yell the names of their ancestors to honor them; they closed with another round of chanting “Harambee!”
The event ended with an appearance from the internationally-known Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble. Dressed in African clothing, the group featured dancers and drummers of all ages performing a series of dances and songs complete with a stilt walker. The dance and drum group won first place at the McDonald’s Gospel Festival in Madison Square Garden in New York and performed in Dakar, Senegal.