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Kwanzaa Begins Today

Christmas is over for another year. It´s time to start celebrating Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, a week-long opportunity for black Americans to celebrate their heritage and African roots.

Kwanzaa is a new celebration. It began in 1966 when Maulana Karenga, a controversial black studies professor at Cal State-Long Beach, decided blacks needed to know more about their heritage.

San Pablo resident Billy Alexander says Kwanzaa was slow to catch on because many didn´t understand what it was about. Alexander says Kwanzaa isn´t a religious holiday. It comes in as Christmas leaves because this is the time when crops are harvested in West Africa, where most American blacks trace their heritage. Kwanzaa is a Swahili word meaning “the first” or “the first fruits of the harvest.”

It ends January first.