Across America, roughly 5 million African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa each year. In Dover, the week-long festival is being marked by a Saturday evening celebration at the Dover's Inner City Cultural League.
The last stocking has been opened and the final tree lit, but there's still some holiday celebrating to do before the New Year.
Kwanzaa begins today and runs through New Year's Day, when the holiday concludes with a traditional feast and gift-exchange
Across America, roughly 5 million African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa each year. In Dover, the week-long festival is being marked by a Saturday evening celebration at the Dover's Inner City Cultural League. The annual event features poetry, stories about African-American heritage and history, singing and traditional African dancing and drumming by the center's member children. It concludes with a potluck feast for participants and audience members alike.
Reuben Salters, the former Dover city councilman who founded the Kirkwood Street community center in 1971, said about 35 members participate in the Kwanzaa celebration, which has been an annual event for the past 22 years. More than 100 people from the community typically attend, Salters said.
Salters said Kwanzaa typically centered on small-scale private celebrations for most families.
"In Dover there are many families that celebrate it, but it's a personal thing," he said. "It's not a corporate thing. It's a family thing where the idea is to spiritualize the season and make it a family time without the commercialism.
"It's low-key because a lot of people don't [celebrate] Kwanzaa," he said. "Everyone puts so much into Christmas, with the traveling and the gifts, so it takes an effort to do Kwanzaa."
But Salters says honoring his African heritage is well worth that effort.
Salters typically celebrates Kwanzaa at home with his family – his wife Jo Anna, two children and six grandchildren – but says it's a modest celebration.
"I set up a little table with a mat and a candelabra and put some food around it," he said. "I don't do a whole big thing. The only day the house is full is on Christmas, but I have family stop by during the week."
But Salters said it was important to publicly commemorate African-American heritage, which is why he organizes the celebration every year.
"It's about pride in our heritage," he said. "Because a lot of people have low self-esteem. A lot of people don't know their history or the history of Africa and how special it is."
IF YOU GO
WHAT Kwanzaa Celebration
WHERE Inner City Cultural League, 54 S. Kirkwood St., Dover
WHEN 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 29
INFO (302) 736-0101 or firstname.lastname@example.org