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Audrey T. McCluskey
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

Last modified: Monday, November 22, 2010

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

Nov. 22, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- "Kwanzaa-in-Action," the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center's Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration on Dec. 1 at Indiana University Bloomington, will again 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 community.

The public is invited to the event, 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 with a canned good for local food pantry.

"Kwanzaa-in-Action is a practical and uplifting way to extend the social and utilitarian principles of this culturally rich celebration to the broader community," said Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Director Audrey T. McCluskey.

Now in its second year, Kwanzaa first was 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" -- unity, self-determination, work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. 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.

Participating student organizations choose one of the seven principles to develop their service project. Last year seven organizations performed service projects that included outreach and mentoring to homeless teens, a fashion show to raise funds to eradicate world hunger, a step-show to raise funds for local HIV/AIDS organizations, and an African bazaar that offered hand-made crafts for sale to support African relief.

The program also will include interactive entertainment led by Betty Dlamini, of Swaziland, who is a singer, actress and playwright in addition to being a IsiZulu instructor at IU's African Studies Program. She will lead the audience in inspirational songs derived from the Zulu/Nguni cultures. A reception will follow in the Bridgwaters Lounge.

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.