Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition

Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition

Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition

Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition

Synopsis

Since 1966, Kwanzaa has been celebrated as a black holiday tradition - an annual recognition of cultural pride in the African American community. But how did this holiday originate, and what is its broader cultural significance?

Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Traditionexplores the political beginning and later expansion of Kwanzaa, from its start as a Black Power holiday, to its current place as one of the most mainstream of the black holiday traditions. For those wanting to learn more about this alternative observance practiced by countless African Americans and how Kwanzaa fits into the larger black holiday tradition, Keith A. Mayes gives an accessible and definitive account of the movements and individuals that pushed to make this annual celebration a reality, and shows how African-Americans brought the black freedom struggle to the American calendar.

Clear and thoughtful, Kwanzaais the perfect introduction to what is now the quintessential African American holiday.

Excerpt

Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition examines the creation and development of Kwanzaa as a response to racial oppression that manifested in black cultural and holiday invisibility in the twentieth century. As black civil rights organizations and white policymakers focused on changing Jim Crow laws, Black Power cultural workers provided black America with new ways of celebrating and observing. For Black Power activists, Kwanzaa was just as important as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Kwanzaa was their answer to what they understood as the ubiquity of white cultuliday appropriation. The appropriation of Kwanzaa by American corporate and cultural institutions in the 1980s and 1990s captures the holiday’s development and yields how Kwanzaa served the needs of institutions outside black America. By the last decade of the twentieth century, Kwanzaa ceased being the sole property of the Black Power community; it had been embraced by a broader segment of African-Americans, corporate and religious bodies, cultural and media institutions, and the federal government. By looking at the holiday over time, the book will explore two different Kwanzaas, or two moments in Kwanzaa’s history: the Black Power Kwanzaa created by Maulana Karenga and promoted by black cultural . . .

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