Unlike winter holidays with religious origins, Kwanzaa is a celebration of traditional African values and principles that play a positive role in African-American culture. Though Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration, the principles — umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith) — are meant to be practiced year-round. Here are some organizations in Indianapolis that embody principles of Kwanzaa, allowing the community to celebrate all 365 days of the year:
Umoja is a celebration of harmony and togetherness. Unite for Change, an initiative of Christ Missionary Baptist Church, is one of many local organizations providing everyday citizens with opportunities to gain knowledge and serve their communities together. Unite for Change brings together stakeholders, institutions, elected officials and Indy residents to exchange dialogue and educate one another. Search for volunteer opportunities at uniteforchange.org.
Kujichagulia is about finding the courage to create and speak for oneself. In a world where women often have difficulty realizing their potential, local nonprofit Krown Keepers Inc. is dedicated to fostering self-determination in girls. The organization has monthly events aimed at helping young women own their power while building positive relationships with others. Find Krown Keepers online at facebook.com/krownkeepersinc.
Ujima is about building and maintaining communities together, and The ROCK Initiative at Eastern Star Church is doing just that. By restoring homes and teaching the community about responsible finances, The ROCK Initiative aims to improve the quality of life in the 46218 ZIP code, one of the most disadvantaged parts of the city. Learn more at easternstarchurch.org/ministries/the-rock-initiative.
Ujamaa is about empowering the community to maintain our own stores, shops and businesses so that we can profit from them together. The Kheprw Institute, located in the middle of Indy’s largest food desert, has a long history of teaching the power of corporate economics. Their Community Controlled Food Initiative allows the public to buy fresh food collectively to get wholesale prices while supporting local farmers. Learn more at kheprw.org/ccfi.
Nia is about helping individuals realize the power they have to create change. Boys II Men is all about helping boys discover their purpose as they develop toward manhood. In addition to teaching personal responsibility, academic success and good citizenship, Boys II Men gets youth involved in community service opportunities to help young men see the impact their lives have on others. Find out more at boysiimen.org.
Kuumba is about expressing oneself and finding beauty and meaning inside of one’s community. Localmotion, an open mic and performing arts hub that meets every month, allows all ages to share their talents with the community. Learn more at oldsoulent.com/localmotion.html.
Imani is about belief in God, heritage, self and the visions of past and present leaders who knew a better world could be created. A local organization honoring the faith of one of those leaders is the MLK Center. By embracing the teachings and philosophies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the center creates multi-generational programs that build community, invest in youth and empower families. For more information, visit mlkcenterindy.org.