Modern Living: Holiday for Blacks

While most Americans last week were storing away Christmas memories for another year, a growing number of blacks were opening gifts—and affirming political principles—at parties and feasts observing a new festival named Kwanza. Drawing heavily on traditional African harvest festivals for inspiration, Kwanza (which means "first fruits" in Swahili) is a seven-day ceremony that winds up with a lavish celebration on New Year's Eve.

Kwanza came into existence about five years ago, spurred on by Maulana Ron Karenga,* head of the black nationalist organization called US. "He saw that black people here had...

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