On the 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa, hundreds of New York residents poured into local neighborhoods to support Black-owned businesses. A local comedian spurred the effort, purposely held on the first day of the seven-day celebration that bolsters Black culture and values.
Comedian Kerry Coddett of Brooklyn launched the sold-out Kwanzaa Crawl through her group, Operation Mobilize, on Monday, Dec. 26, according to the official event website. OM’s focus is on economic and political plans to help solve issues facing the Black community and the Kwanzaa Crawl supported that mission by encouraging support for Black-owned establishments. Featuring 16 bars and restaurants in the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene and Park Slope, Coddett told the New York Daily News why such an event is necessary.
“We’re always looking to bring the community together and inspire people to take an active role in the things that happen in their community,” Coddett said. “So, this is just another one of our initiatives. We think it’s important that we support the small Black-owned businesses that support us, that hire us.”
Kwaznaa was established in 1966 by Black radical Maulana Karenga, according to Atlanta Black Star. The holiday, which begins the day after Christmas and ends on New Year’s Day, celebrates seven principles, including Kujichagulia (self-determination) and Ujamaa (supporting each other).
Coddett, who hopes the Kwanzaa Crawl will spread nationwide, spoke to those principles when explaining more about the event to the Daily News.
“We’re tired of being shot,” she said. “We’re tired of police brutality. We’re tired of complaining and we’re tired of protesting. This event is one of those things that encourages people to be mobile and do something and learn who their congressmen and City Council members are. They’re all out here supporting this.”
That same day, President Barack Obama issued his final Kwanzaa greeting while on vacation in Honolulu, Hawaii. Obama wished a “happy and healthy new year” to anyone celebrating the holiday and said it is a time to “reflect on the rich African-American culture,” according to the Associated Press.
He also emphasized Kwanzaa’s principles of unity, self-determination, working together, supporting each other and purpose and faith in ourselves, which he said reflected the country’s most treasured values.