FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kwanzaa is a relatively young holiday, but about 13 million Americans now are actively observing it, according to Cedric McClester, a spokesman for the New York Urban Coalition, which started a communitywide Kwanzaa celebration in 1979.
"It's back to basics, back to black, if you will," McClester said.
Kwanzaa was founded by Maulana Karenga, chairman of the black studies department at California State University, Long Beach. Kwanzaa was an expression of cultural pride and of Us, the nationalist group he headed, McClester writes in his book "Kwanzaa: Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Didn't Know Where to Ask" (Gumbs & Thomas, $5.95).
Kwanzaa was embraced by few people before 1979, when McClester's group enlisted the New York Museum of Natural History in sponsoring an annual public celebration. Now, organizations nationwide are joining the New York Urban Coalition in attempting to make Kwanzaa the fiber that will weave their communities closer together.
"Now I am seeing everyone from grandmothers to the little ones at the celebrations," he said.