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Audrey T. McCluskey
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

Last modified: Tuesday, November 24, 2009

IU's Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center promotes community service through 'Kwanzaa-in-Action'

Nov. 24, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- "Kwanzaa-in-Action," the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center's Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration on Dec. 2 at Indiana University Bloomington, will focus on community service. The event is designed to incorporate the seven principles of Kwanzaa through friendly competition among IU student organizations to benefit the university and Bloomington communities.

The public is invited to the pageant-style presentation and reception, where a panel of IU faculty and staff will judge the participating organizations' service projects and award a $500 prize to the winning organization. The event will feature entertainment and food, and will begin at 6 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

Kwanzaa Celebration

Admission is free to the public, but everyone is encouraged to bring a canned good, which will be donated to the local food pantry.

Kwanzaa was first celebrated on Dec. 26, 1966, and is traditionally observed from Dec. 26 through Jan.1, with each day focused on Nguzo Saba, or the "seven principles." Derived from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits," Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa.

Kwanzaa seeks to reinforce a connectedness to African cultural identity, provide a focal point for the gathering of African peoples and to reflect upon the seven principles that have sustained them. The holiday has been observed at IU since the early 1990s.

Audrey McCluskey, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, noted that previous Kwanzaa celebrations at IU have involved guest speakers, art exhibits, children's programs and even a food festival. However this year's planners wanted to do something more specific to the Kwanzaa principles, which include unity, faith, cooperative economics, and creative work and responsibility.

All student organizations at IU have been invited to enact one or more of these principles through a community service project. "This is an open and friendly competition," McCluskey said. "They all will win, in fact. Giving back is a valuable part of all students' education."

Examples of the projects that organizations have entered in the competition include fundraisers for African relief and the World Food Program, programs to help young people prepare for college and succeed as young adults, and a program to donate Thanksgiving baskets in the community.

The pre-Kwanzaa event also will feature entertainment by student performers and a gala reception.