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Kwanzaa holiday starts today with parade in South L.A.

December 26, 2012 |  9:10 am

Photo: Silhouette of a Kiara, which is a candle fixture used during the Kwanzaa Holidays. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times
Crowds are expected to gather Wednesday in South Los Angeles to kick off the weeklong Kwanzaa holiday.

The 36th annual Kwanzaa Gwaride Parade and Festival is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at Adams and Crenshaw boulevards. It will wind its way about two miles to Leimert Park, according to the Kwanzaa in Los Angeles website.

Maulana Karenga, chair of Cal State Long Beach's Department of Africana Studies, created Kwanzaa in 1966 in what he termed "an audacious act of self-determination."

In his annual Kwanzaa message, Karenga wrote this year that "the celebration and season of Kwanzaa is a deeply meaningful and special time of remembrance, reflection and recommitment for us as a people throughout the world African community."

Karenga said Kwanzaa is based on seven principles: Unity, self-determination, responsibility and collective work, purpose, cooperative economics, faith and creativity.

Families often celebrate by lighting candles and serving traditional African foods. While some people fast during the holiday, there is generally a feast on the final night for all.


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Photo: A kinara, a candle holder used during Kwanzaa, is shown in silhouette. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times