Monday, January 3, 2011

"Is it time for Kwanzaa?"

This is what both Mani and Rion asked me over the last couple of days. Mani doesn't understand it's over and Rion gets it but because we didn't celebrate Kuumba he keeps hoping I'll change my mind. I am so happy to see they took so well to something new and little Imani learned a handful of things and I know she will get even more next time and Rion just impressed me with his understandings and ability to learn and analyze things and apply it to his life. I will definitely do this again next year. I will probably change the trying to give gifts on certain days to signify the principle we learned because that was really hard! I may just give them all their gifts on a certain day; maybe Umoja or Imani. We'll see. I will try to incorporate more outside activities and hopefully that will be easier since Mani will be older and hopefully able to stay up a little later since I'm rushed when I come home after work to do Kwanzaa. All in all it was a success. We had awesome deep talks and most importantly meaningful family time. I hopefully planted some good seeds in Rion for the year so he can make good decisions in becoming the person I know he's meant to.

"Kwanzaa isn't even a real Holiday"
...someone said to me ans turns out one of my friends had the same response when she told others about her celebrating it. Lol, what it's not is a religious holiday but we definitely spoke about God, faith and prayer a lot throughout the week. If people can celebrate Thanksgiving and Valentines day and Halloween- we can surely celebrate Kwanzaa. Those holidays (despite their shady origination's) honor something that people want to hold on to such as being thankful for something, showing love for someone, or whatever it is we are supposed to feel about Halloween but Kwanzaa has 7 things in one. I want to celebrate, honor and remember the key points of this holiday as much as I can. I want to instill these values in the kids always but if it takes a day to focus on one so be it.

Why don't more people celebrate this holiday?
It embodies culture and heritage as well as the principles that I'm sure many others believe in so why is it on the calendar but not as understood or participated in as it should? Well from first hand experience I can honestly say - because it's 7 days long! You have to really be dedicated to accomplish this lol. Hanukkah is a long holiday as well but that is for their religion passed on from family to family down the line. It's pretty much mandatory and Kwanzaa is a life choice. I may have quit if the kids weren't so involved and interested as they were! For 1 - I am a single mother who works full time. I get home at 630pm and the baby goes to bed at 8pm. Somewhere in there I have to change gears from work mode to mom mode, do Kwanzaa, fix dinner, get the baby ready for bed along with the other mom stuff I would be doing on a regular evening. It's tiring but it was very worth it. Planning each day was fun too but the time frame I had to do it in was so limited. I had to cut a lot out but I will be more prepared next year for sure.

We came up with some great goals for 2011 and some more confidence and faith in ourselves - we spent the end of the year very close and made some new traditions. Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year - Thank you for sharing in our experience!

(saying Happy New Year!)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 6 - Kuumba - Creativity

What Kuumba Means...
Strive for discipline, dedication, and achievement in all you do.
Dare struggle and sacrifice and gain the strength that comes from this.
Build where you are and dare leave a legacy that will last as long as the sun shines and the water flows.

Practice daily Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba, and Imani.
May the year's end meet us laughing, and stronger.
May our children honor us by following our example in love and struggle.
And at the end of next year, may we sit together again, in larger numbers, with greater achievement and closer to liberation and a higher level of life.
On this, the sixth day of Kwanzaa, we focus on kuumba (creativity) and "do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it."

I was always taught that we all have talents. Are you discovering, developing and using your talents? Here are some resources that may help you do so:

* Think creatively about the world's problems and how to solve them.

* Use your talents to serve your community, and we all benefit.

* Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

* Be the person you want to be.

You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed - Maya Angelou—author, poet, playwright, stage and screen performer, and director

What we did....

Nothing. Kuumba falls on New years Eve and is supposed to be a feast of the end of the year and celebrating family and embracing creativity. Honestly, the idea behind it saddened me so I pretty much just avoided it. No family or friends other than me and the kids were there to bring in the New Year together and it just made me realize more what we don't have. Both the kids asked me excitedly "Is it Kwanzaa?" and Mani said, "I can't wait for Kwanzaa!" but I just wasn't up to it sadly. We had that book we were making of the & principles but never finished it because there is no one to give it to. Rion and I just watched "Clash of the Titans" and brought New Years in together and crashed at 12:05.
Our Last Family Pic of 2010!

Day 5 - Nia - PURPOSE

On this the fifth day of Kwanzaa, we are asked to ponder NIA, that is, Purpose. Think what it is you were put here for? For surely you were not made for naught. How shall you make your mark? What is it that you, uniquely, have to offer in return for the gift of life bequeathed to you by God and the ancestors? What is it that you can strive for, that will help, not only you, but your family, and above all your community? And is that not the basic "purpose" of the entire week of Kwanzaa? To give us time to think, yes think, about where we are, and where we are headed, and how we can work together to get there as one. NIA means purpose! What is it that you propose to do with this precious life that has been given to you

"The sun has a purpose. The moon has a purpose. The snow has a purpose. Cows have a purpose. You were born for a purpose. You have to find your purpose. Go to school. Learn to read and write.... What is your purpose, your occupation? Find your purpose.... " This was said by a great man who knew his purpose named Muhammad Ali

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942, at Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali began boxing at the age of 12. A white policeman named Joe Martin featured Ali on his early television show, "Tomorrow's Champions," and started him working out at Louisville's Columbia Gym. An African American trainer named Fred Stoner taught Ali the science of boxing, instructing him to move with the grace and subtlety of a dancer.

Ali built an impressive amateur record which led him to both the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and Golden Gloves championships. At the age of 18 he competed in the 1960 Olympic games held at Rome, Italy, and won the gold medal in the light-heavyweight division. This led to a contract with a twelve member group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsors Group, the most lucrative contract negotiated by a professional in the history of boxing. He worked his way through a string of professional victories, employing a style that combined speed with devastating punching power, described by one of his handlers as the ability to "float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee."

Ali's flashy style of boasting and rhyming and out-spoken self-promotion got considerable media attention as he moved toward a chance to contend for the world heavyweight boxing championship. When he began to write poems predicting the outcome of his many bouts he became known by the another name: "The Louisville Lip."

This is the legend of Cassius Clay,
The most beautiful fighter in the world today.
He talks a great deal, and brags indeed-y,
Of a muscular punch that's incredibly speed-y.

Clay swings with his left, Clay swings with his right,
Look at young Cassius carry the fight
Liston keeps backing, but there's not enough room,
It's a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom

Both the attention and his skill as a fighter paid off, and on February 15, 1964, at Miami, Florida, when he was only 22 years old, he fought and defeated Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world.
On April 28, 1967, Ali was drafted into military service during the Vietnam War. As a Muslim and a conscientious objector he refused to serve, claiming an exemption as a minister of the Black Muslim religion. The press turned against him, calling him "unpatriotic, loudmouthed, and arrogant." Although he had not been charged or convicted for violating the Selective Service Act, the New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his heavyweight title in May of 1967. Ali's comment to Sports Illustrated at the time was, "I'm giving up my title, my wealth, may be my future. Many great men have been tested for their religious beliefs. If I pass this test, I'll come out stronger than ever." Eventually Ali was sentenced to five years in prison, released on appeal, and his conviction overturned three years later by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Muhammad Ali is a good example of someone who found their purpose early and stuck with it and touched lives of many others because he stayed true to his purpose.

What we did...
We talked about what purpose meant and how a boy like Cassius Clay could turn into the great Muhammad Ali simply by knowing his purpose and sticking to it. Rion feels he knows what his purpose is and we talked ablout it being ok not to know yet or to even get older and change our purpose but to just make sure we know use the gifts God gave us and when it feels right then we know we are fulfilling a purpose.

We watched a show together I downloaded on the ipod, "The Proud Family - 7 days of Kwanzaa" and Rion and Mani both were happy to see they knew some of the things the Proud family was learning - Mani loved hearing them say Imani (faith).

I gave Rion a Sims game for his psp so he could see how each Sim had a purpose and how to help his Sim acheive his goals etc. (ok I'm a little more addicted to the game than Rion but hey).

Think about how much better and more meaningful your life will be when you are doing exactly what you were made and meant to do. As I understand more about my purpose and how to live it, I have become a happier, healthier person. It's a blessing I wish for all of us. I can't wait to see the kids discover their purpose in life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 4 - Ujamaa - Collective Economics

On this the fourth and middle day of Kwanzaa, we celebrate Ujamaa, Cooperative Economics. Let us strengthen our determination to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together....

When you purchase at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned, more money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the local tax base. These businesses add to the character of the community and contribute more than just goods and services. They offer personalized attention, add diversity to our shopping options, And they pay their employees—and local taxes—with the income they receive. Each time you choose to spend your dollars at a local, independent business, you are voting for the continued strength and vitality of our community.

We can Make a difference with a few simple steps:
• Make a decision to find and patronize a locally owned business, wherever possible.
• Dine at a local, independent restaurant and treat yourself to a unique and personal dining experience.
• When you shop online with out-of-state companies, it doesn't contribute a dime to the local economy. So check for members who offer the same products locally, and some even deliver.
• Look for the Local First Arizona logo when you shop and tell other independent businesses about Local First Arizona.
• Use our business directory to locate businesses offering specific goods or services, or you can view a complete list of Local First Arizona member businesses and the categories in which they are listed.

Entrepreneurship offers the best opportunity to maximize your profit potential and to achieve real wealth. Businesses not only need loyal customers but they often require services from other businesses to thrive and prosper. We can contribute to the community by becoming entrepeneurs as well as using local businesses.

Who we learned about...

Farrah Gray

Raised in the impoverished South side of Chicago, Dr. Gray defied the odds and became a self-made millionaire by the age of 14. At the age of 21, he became Dr. Farrah Gray, receiving an Honorary Doctorate degree of Humane Letters from Allen University. This was in recognition of his ingenious economic mind and distinguished commitment to the development of values such as leadership, integrity and scholarship. In his rise from poverty and in Between the ages of 12 and 16 years old, Dr. Gray founded and operated business ventures that included KIDZTEL pre-paid phone cards, the One Stop Mail Boxes & More franchise and The Teenscope "Youth AM/FM" interactive teen talk show, Gray was also Executive Producer of a comedy show on the Las Vegas Strip and owner of Farr-Out Foods, "Way-Out Food with a Twist," aimed at young people with the company's first Strawberry-Vanilla syrup product. Farr-Out Foods generated orders exceeding $1.5 million.

Dr. Gray began his entrepreneurial development at six years old selling home-made body lotion and his own hand-painted rocks as book-ends door-to-door. At age seven, he was carrying business cards reading "21st Century CEO." At eight, Gray became co-founder of Urban Neighborhood Enterprise Economic Club on Chicago's South side which enlisted, educated and engaged "at-risk" youth by creating and developing legal ways for them to acquire additional income.

What we did...

We practiced the principal of ujamaa by eating at a local restaurant to have Rion and my favorite - sushi! We discussed the principal of collective economics and ways Rion could be an entrepreneur if he chose. We talked about what it took to run the restaurant we were eating at and how it helped the people of the community. Tomorrow we learn about Nia - Purpose.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 3 - Ujima - Collective work and responsibility

On this, the third day of Kwanzaa, we focus on ujima (collective work and responsibility) and "build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together."

When someone performs an action which benefits his or her community, it is known as community service. However, community service can also be rewarding, and it is a vital part of many small communities. Getting involved in your community makes it healthier and livelier, and numerous organizations around the world support community service activities.
Things which could be considered community service include tutoring children, building homes in low income areas with Habitat for Humanity, assisting the elderly, helping animals at animal shelters, contributing to the operations of volunteer fire departments and emergency services, or helping with community beautification. In all cases, community service work is performed by volunteers who are not paid for their time. In some instances, the work would not be accomplished without the work of such volunteers, and many small organizations rely on people with community spirit to survive.
Engaging in activities like environmental restoration or civic beautification will make your life enjoyable by making the world around you more pleasant. community service can also help to ensure that important services like meals for the elderly and volunteer fire departments continue to run. It also helps to build a rich and supportive community of people who know each other and lend each other a hand when it is needed.

An Example of Ujima...

Founded by leaders of the African American community, Shiloh Orphanage now is known as the Shiloh Comprehensive Community Center. The orphanage played an important role historically by providing housing, care, and education for black children without families in a time when governmental assistance was not available. The orphanage consists of three buildings: Strong Academy, the Girls Dormitory,and the Boys Dormitory. These buildings are architecturally significant as examples of their type and because the dormitories were designed by locally prominent architects.

The Shiloh Baptist Association founded Shiloh Orphanage in 1902, initially locating it in the home of Reverend Daniel McHorton, the first superintendent. In 1904, the orphanage purchased land on 15th Street from Mrs. Hattie Strong, who had previously tried to organize an orphanage at this location near the historically black neighborhood of Bethlehem. Three buildings were constructed as part of the orphanage. A one room school for the younger children, Strong Academy, was built in 1910 and named in honor of Mrs. Strong’s husband. The orphanage had a vegetable garden to the east of the complex of buildings and used some of the acreage to graze cattle.

At Shiloh, the older children took care of younger children. Some of the older residents worked in the homes of white citizens and members of the Shiloh Board of Directors. The children’s chores included washing, ironing, cleaning, and working in the garden. For entertainment, they played games in the yard, took walks in the neighborhood, and read books.

After operating for over 60 years, the orphanage closed in 1970. In 1977, the Shiloh Comprehensive Community Center formed to serve citizens in the area and began using the orphanage buildings.
What we did....
We discussed why doing community service is important to our community and ways we could accomplish this. Rion decided when he walk through the park to or from school he could throw away trash if he saw any. His friends might do the same but if not "every little bit matters" he said. He talked about volunteering at the soup kitchen and how he felt bad but enjoyed it. I told him that we had an opportunity to volunteer at Helen's Hope Chest to help the foster children as well as at a ranch to volunteer during their horse therapy. He wasn't too sure about the horse thing because of course he remembers the time we went to visit the ranch by our apartment and a horse spit in his face lol! he was a bit traumatized but I explained what horse therapy was and he was in. We shall see lol. We also went through his room and he got all his books and games he wanted to give the foster children. Mani and I had already gathered all her toys and clothes earlier. Mani understood they were going to "the other babies" who may not have that toy and she happily put her toys in a pile for them. We will bring it to the facility next week after the volunteer lady calls us back. We will definitely find more ways to give back to the community in 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 2 - kujichagulia - Self-determination

What we learned...

Today we reflect on the second Kwanzaa principle, kujichagulia, or self-determination: “to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created and spoken for by others.”

Self-determination can be defined as "Living the way I want to live instead of how others expect me to live," and "Taking the amount of control over your life you want, in the areas you want to control." There are many short term and long term decisions that people make to control their lives. Most people don't want to be in total control of every part of their lives, but may want to share control with family, friends, and others. Letting someone else take control of certain things, however, might mean accepting responsibility for other things like by (me)mom going to work and paying the bills and providing everything you need in return you(kids) go to school and do your best and help to keep the home clean and in order

In order to be self-determined, it's important to have the necessary skills, knowledge, attitudes/beliefs and supports. Skills in areas such as communication, independent living, orientation and mobility, decision making, and self-control are essential. A self-determined person's attitudes and beliefs are indicated by a positive outlook on life, self-confidence, high self-esteem, a sense of determination, and internal control. Supports can come from different places. For example, family members and close friends might offer emotional support. Access to technology and a strong mind might provide the necessary educational support. People who want to become self-determined about something must identify the skills, knowledge, attitudes/beliefs and supports they already have, and those they need in order to become what they want to be or do what they want to do in life.

When you have these skills, you have more control over you life and are empowered to do things you want to do. You can decide what to do with your free time, if you want to continue your education after high school, what kind of job/career you want, where you want to live and much much more! Being self-determined means knowing what you want and knowing how to get it. Knowing yourself means, you know your strengths, your needs, and what your interests are. Maybe you are good at drawing or you are good at solving math problems. If you already know these things, then that means you know your strengths.

It is important to make decisions and speak up for yourself so that you can make your life what you want it to be. If you do not make your own decisions, then everyone else will make them for you. Getting advice helps you make good decisions that are right for you. Praying and following Gods word is important in making good decisions. Making decisions means you are able to think about a situation and make the choice that is best for you. To make an informed decision, first, identify your choices. Next, think about, and maybe discuss with a trusted friend, family member or teacher, the good and bad points of each choice. Then, decide on the one choice that best fits what you want. Later, review your decision and see if it worked out the way you wanted. If it did not you can go back and make some change.

Who we learned about...

Malcom X
Malcolm's style and message stood in harsh contrast to the leadership of the mainstream Civil Rights Movement, who favored nonviolent protests and integration to end discrimination. Malcolm's honest and often offensive political views made him the most interviewed African-American leader by the press and, in 1959, the second-most sought-after college speaker besides Martin Luther King Jr.
He was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, as Malcolm Little. His family was forced out of Omaha by white vigilantes who burned down the family's house. After his mother was institutionalized from the strain of trying to raise her family, the children were separated and sent to various foster homes. Malcolm went to Boston to live with a relative, but he fell into a life of crime—selling and using drugs, running numbers, and organizing a burglary ring. These activities landed him in jail for six years; he was only 21 then.
While imprisoned, he was introduced to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam an organization that works toward the betterment of African Americans in a variety of areas, including spiritual, financial, and social Malcolm began to accept Muslim ideology. He improved his intellect by copying every word of the dictionary and reading voraciously before and after his parole.
Upon his release, Malcolm replaced his "slave name" with an X and rose to prominence as the Nation's representative (1952-1964). He proved to be a brilliant, powerful orator who attracted huge crowds on the university lecture circuit. He had a constant media following. He increased Muslim membership by traveling the country and telling African Americans about their previously rich culture, which he said had been taken away by whites who had then brainwashed Blacks into a mentality of self-hate.
Malcolm's growing popularity became a source of disagreement within the Nation, and his discovery of the leader of the Nation’s alleged dishonest personal behavior created a division. Malcolm left the Nation of Islam in 1964 to form Muslim Mosque, Inc., in Harlem, New York. To solidify his newfound Islamic belief and transformation, Malcolm renamed himself El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
On February 21 1965, a week after his home was firebombed, 15 bullets fired by 3 assailants entered his body. El-Shabazz died in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem before medical services arrived. He left behind a loving family, an important social struggle, and an autobiography of bravery, confidence, and self-determination.

What we did....

Rion was seemed very interested in this principle and we spent most of the time just discussing what we were reading about. I would ask if he understood a certain word or sentence and he would give me his own interpritation and his own examples. I was really impressed with how much he grasped. Mani actually does pick up bits and pieces of what we learn too; i asked her what self determination means and she said "ummm I can flip if I want to!" and she flipped. Genious i tell you! Rion explained self determination as being your own driver in a car and if you let the passenger take the wheel you are no longer in control of where you are going. He understands it is importan to be your own driver. He also brought up becoming a pilot when he grows up again. I am excited to see if he sticks with that dream. He didnt learn as much about Malcolm X as I would have liked but I did not want to overwhelm them with information. He got some key points and at least the name is now in his head. I must say am am so dissapointed in the school system as well as myself for the lack of knowledge he has in black historical figures. When he asked me "who is Malcolm X?" my heart dropped. I had been teaching him about other people over the years that I thought the school probably would not but I never knew they were teaching him NOTHING about different cultures!

We added Kujichagulia to our book and then the kids both blew out the candles and so ended our 2nd day of Kwanzaa.

P.S. Mani is really good at remembering and saying Swahili words and the English meaning. She can pronounce Swahili better than English sometimes lol.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 1 - Umoja - Unity

Kwanzaa starts today and the first principle is Umoja. Umoja is the principle of unity in family, relationships, and heart. On this day we light the black candle which stands for unity.

One of the main reasons I wanted to incorporate Kwanzaa in to our traditions is because of this principle alone. Without Unity nothing good can happen. Unity in family is by far the most important thing to an individuals growth, to the community, to a race to our country. I grew up seeing family not united and it had an effect on me. To this day It hurts me deeply to see the loss of unity in the world and especially in my own family as a whole. I need to make sure to instill the importance of this one simple principle in my children so we can always be stronger together. So we can always have each other and Mani and Rion will have a sibling relationship that so many in our family do not. And with that maybe a new cycle will start for the next generations of Galera's. That's my dream at least...

What is Unity? (what we learned)...
Throughout history, African American families have struggled to maintain their unity. Part of the problem is the history of slavery. Slaves were property. They were no better than horses or cows. Like horses and cows, there were breeding slaves, both male and female. Even if a slaves had their family together, there was no guarantee that they would remain together. A slave could be sold away from their family at anytime. Babies were sometimes sold from their mother's arms. Children were sold. A violent or destructive slave would be sold or see his family sold away from him as punishment. After slavery, many slaves looked for their families and never found them.

Kwanzaa and the principle of Umoja allow African Americans to unite and bond in our most important relationships, with our families, and with our community. Umoja teaches us that great changes happen when blacks unite for a common cause. The Civil rights movement is a good example. When Southern Blacks unified to stop white segregation and brutality in the south, they started the ball rolling for change in American society.

Unity begins in the heart. One has to be unified in purpose. One has to unified with those whom they love and one has to find unity in their community. Umoja allows African Americans to explore this theme of unity and to find unity of their own. Families should unify during this time. Family unity encourages families to create daily routines, as well as special traditions and celebrations which affirm members, connect them to family roots, and add creativity and fun to ordinary events. Families can build a secure nest in many ways. The nest must shelter without smothering and allow room for all members to “test their wings” under protection and encouragement.

Key Points
• Strong families recognize that there are benefits and pleasures to be gained from time and activities together. They also realize that they have contributions to make to the family and its members and some obligation to do so. They value the family bond and make efforts to preserve time together for family activities and interaction.
• Families that value unity will, from time-to-time, evaluate the time and energy allocated to family, and when necessary, make needed adjustments.
• By spending pleasant, positive time together, families build up a reserve of good feelings. When trouble comes, it has to be shared with the family and resolved.
• What families do together does not matter so much as that they do something together that is mutually planned and enjoyable. As a general principle, it is probably a good idea to strive for a balanced activity program, including active and inactive, physical and mental, old and new, at home and away, work and play. Spontaneity, humor, wit, and fun are goals to strive for.
• Family unity includes time that family members spend together, both quality and quantity. It means maintaining family identity and togetherness, balancing family priorities with support for member needs, producing strong family bonds, and freedom for individual self-expression.

Who we learned about... (in honor of my little cousins namesake)

Stokely Carmichael was a civil rights activist during the turbulent 1960s. He soared to fame by popularizing the phrase "Black Power." Black Power meant black people coming together to form a political force and either electing representatives or forcing their representatives to speak their needs [rather than relying on established parties] It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations. The African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) refers to the movements in the United States aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring voting rights in Southern states.

Stokely Carmichael was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on June 29, 1941. His father moved his family to the United States when Stokely was only two years old. While Carmichael was in school in the Bronx in the early 1960s, the civil rights movement exploded into the forefront of American culture. The Supreme Court declared that school segregation (separating people based on their race) was illegal. African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, successfully ended segregation on the city's buses through a yearlong boycott. During the boycott, they recruited others to stop using the buses until the companies changed their policies. During Carmichael's senior year in high school, four African American freshmen from a school in North Carolina staged a famous sit-in, or peaceful protest, at the white-only lunch counter in a department store.
The action of these students captured the imagination of young Carmichael. He soon began participating in the movements around New York City. Carmichael also traveled to Virginia and South Carolina to join sit-ins protesting discrimination (treating people differently based solely on their race). Carmichael joined a local organization called the Nonviolent Action Group. This group was connected with an Atlanta-based civil rights organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Whenever he had free time, Carmichael traveled south to join the "freedom riders," an activist group that rode interstate buses in an attempt to end segregation on buses and in bus terminals.

After graduating in 1964 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, Carmichael stayed in the South. He constantly participated in sit-ins, picketing, and voter registration drives (organized gatherings to help people register to vote). He was especially active in Lowndes County, Alabama, where he helped found the Lowndes County Freedom Party, a political party that chose a black panther as its symbol. The symbol was a perfect choice to oppose the white rooster that symbolized the Alabama Democratic Party.

Today we started off with making some more decorations for our Kwanzaa Central. As mentioned before (*see The 7 Symbols) An ear of corn represents each child in the family Rion and Imani made their own kernel corn craft. We also made an African flag out of glitter.

Imani and Rion working on decorations

a booklet of the 7 Principles we started

done! (Mani wanted hers upside down)

After we learned about Unity and family as well as Stokely Carmichael we then created a list of goals for 2011 to help our family become more united. Both Mani and Rion gave suggestions. Hers were to play with her daddy and for Rion and I to go to the playground more with her and slide (she suggested this like 5 times...). Some things Rion and I came up with taking at least 3 family vacations, a movie night every other Saturday, making cookies every holiday and out to dinner once a month. the kids blew out the candle after we recited what Umoja meant and then i gave them their gifts. We were all going to get our own family cup but I already opened mine when we celebrated Imani and Mani actually got a little teaset instead of a cup along with her family scrapbook i made for her (Rion got his on Imani day). Rion gave me a pretty purple ring!And with that our Umoja ceremony was over. We made snickerdoodels together in conclusion of the day. Good times and we all were happy I think me the most because I had us all together just enjoying things I really hold important to the foundation of a good family. Happy Kwanzaa! Saty tuned for tomorrows principle - kujichagulia - self determination!

Some of Rion's scrapbook
some of Imani's scrapbook