Kwanza is a celebration based on African harvest festival traditions. There are seven principles, one principal for each day of the holiday.

One local community leader said Kwanza is a time for the African American community to come together and celebrate their history. He added that the first night of Kwanza is centered around the principle of unity.

“Unity invites us to see what our differences are but also understand unity is not uniformity. We don’t have to all think the same. We don’t have to all do things the same but we do find some shared values that we can come together. Within the African American community, there’s always been shared values of family and togetherness, and we can reach into that, especially during this time,” said Chaplain Darrell Cook, Erie Dems Black Caucus.

Kwanza was first celebrated in 1966, and traditionally, families gather on the last day of Kwanza for a feast.