Chico residents celebrate Kwanzaa

Chico residents celebrate Kwanzaa

Students from local Chico schools delivered speeches about African-American history values on the first day of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration beginning Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 started by Black studies professor Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 and celebrates African-American history and culture.

Alicia Johnson, lifelong Chico resident and founder of Amma Culture, hosts events centered around the education of the African diaspora. Johnson invited the public to the Chico Women’s Club on Sunday to celebrate Kwanzaa.

  • Nicole Carroll, left, aend Alicia Johnson pose with a pinata designed after a Bendera at the Chico Women’s Club in Chico, California on Sunday, Dec. 26 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • 11-year-old Navaeh Moreci holds a microphone for 6-year-old brother Luke Moreci as he speaks at the Women’s Club in Chico, California on Sunday, Dec. 26 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • Community members stand in the hall of the Chico Women’s club during a Kwanzaa celebration in Chico, California on Sunday, Dec. 26 2021.(Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • In the foreground, a Kwanzaa table with the seven symbols of Kwanzaa, and in the background, a pinata designed like the Kwanzaa flag called the Bendera at the Chico Women’s Club in Chico, California on Sunday, Dec. 26 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • A Pinata designed after the Bendera, the Kwanzaa flag, sits on the stage of the Chico Women’s Club in Chico, California on Sunday, Dec. 26 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)



Johnson kicked off the first day reading an excerpt from “Kwanzaa,” a book about the origins of the holiday, which was written by Chico author Anthony Porter and illustrated by his wife Janice Lee Porter.

“It’s important to me that children know there are ancient traditions and ancient knowledge and customs that people have been celebrating and observing for thousands and thousands of years,” Johnson said. “And they’re still pertinent today.”

For Kwanzaa, Johnson invited children to recite the seven principles of Kwanzaa. When translated to English, the seven principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

“My feeling is that these principles are universal principles so that all human beings can benefit from them,” Johnson said.

Students also learned about the Kwanzaa table, which is a shrine with seven symbols each representing an aspect about Kwanzaa, and built Mkeka, which are woven mats used to carry the symbols.

Johnson was raised in Chico and went to one of the few Black churches where she learned about her heritage from the Sunday School teacher, Pearl Person, who was Chico Unified School District’s first Black school teacher.

“I personally, being born and raised in a city that’s 2 percent black, you can imagine most of my supporters are non-black people,” Johnson said. “So we can all work together to strive for improving situations and recognizing that African-Americans have a unique history and currently still a unique struggle, and other people can be supporters.”

Nicole Carroll was at the event with her children to celebrate Kwanzaa.

“As an African-American woman I wanted to celebrate my community and support Amma Culture and sharing about our heritage and culture, on this first day, Umoja,” Carroll said. “My favorite part was seeing so many black kids up on the stage connecting with their heritage.

Johnson said Amma Culture aims to be an educational resource to the public to learn about the African diaspora and has hosted an African Diaspora Celebration Day where students from local schools research significant individuals in history.

“Growing up the black church has traditionally been a way for community members to come together and impart in the youth values and instill in them a sense of identity, values and community. That’s not happening so much anymore,” Johnson said. “This is my way of sort of carrying on that tradition for our youth.”

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