Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday that rose from the rubble of the Los Angeles riots of 1966, will be officially celebrated on Friday (Dec. 3) at West Virginia University.

A Kwanzaa feast and program will be at 6:30 p.m. in the Evansdale Towers Ballroom. The evening, hosted by WVU s Center for Black Culture and Research, features a traditional Kwanzaa meal, plus music and other entertainment.

The traditional lighting of the seven-candled Kinara will be the highlight of the gathering.

CBC &R Director Dr. Katherine Bankole said the message of Kwanzaa can resonate even more this season, as the WVU community gathers in tumultuous times to celebrate the holidays bedrock valuesvalues which include unity, social responsibility and faith.

As Americans of all colors grapple with political and personal uncertainties at home, others in uniform are finding themselves in harms way on battlefields in the desert.

And todays social climate, Bankole said, isnt all that different from the days when the holiday was created nearly 40 years ago by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of black studies at California State University at Long Beach.

Then, Los Angeles was still cleaning up ashes from fires lit in hatred. The citys Watts neighborhood had become a powder keg for the racial tensions that smoldered in every corner of the country.

A half a world away, soldiers were dying in Vietnam.

And Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy both had two years to live.

Kwanzaa, with its reverent simplicity, helped families work through it all, Bankole said.

Kwanzaa is a celebration of life, family and community,Bankole said.Were all in this together. Kwanzaas symbols and ceremonies are so important for our students. They can learn about Kwanzaa, and they can take it home to their communities. They can launch their own celebrations for their families. They can keep it going.

Kwanzaa is officially observed in the United States and elsewhere Dec. 26-Jan. 1.

Popular Choir Performance

The CBC &Rs Paul Robeson/Mahalia Jackson Choir will also stage its annual winter concert at 6:30 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 5) in Eiesland Hall. Christmas favorites and traditional spiritual music will be performed.

For more information on Kwanzaa and the concert, call the CBC &R at 304-293-7029.