By BRADEN LAMMERS
Jeffersonville’s library was not quiet Saturday afternoon — it was filled with the noises of banging drums, clanging bells and children.
For the 12th year, Angela Jackson-Brown, director of Jeffersonville Metro Parents in Education and Global Interventions Ventures in Education, GIVE, hosted a Kwanzaa celebration for the community, this year at the Jeffersonville Township Public Library.
Jackson-Brown, also known as Iya Sango Roake, explained Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African holiday founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966. The special day highlights seven principles, known as the Nguzo Saba, and is celebrated during seven days following Dec. 25 and ending on New Year’s Day.
“It is not a religion,” she said. “A lot of people are under the misinformation that Kwanzaa was designed as a religious celebration. It’s about a cultural celebration of the unique contribution that African-Americans have created in America.”
She added Kwanzaa is celebrated around the world by more than 2 million people.
Saturday’s program featured arts and crafts for children and performances by musician playing native instruments. An informational program and celebration ceremony, which included a Karamu feast, was held later in the day.
“Our main mission, our main vision, is to teach celebration, appreciation and respect of all the contributions that the African Diaspora has brought to the world,” Jackson-Brown said.
James Cross, Louisville, one of the percussionists Saturday, and for the purposes of the ceremony was going by the name Ali Shimba. He said the Kwanzaa ceremony for him goes beyond the celebration the defined seven principles.
“I think you connect with the community,” Cross said. “What it means to me is like a festival remembering the past, where you came from [and] learning to live the best you can live.”
He added that connection helps reinforce positive values in the community and in your own life. He also wants to use the celebration to help spread the history of African culture and to show that there is much more to it that many people think.
“I come out because I’m hoping to help somebody,” Cross said. “I’m hoping to be an example.”