"crops", "mat", "candle holder", "corn", "seven candles", "unity cup", and "gifts". These are the seven basic symbols used to observe Kwanzaa, the week long cultural celebration born out of the 60's Black Panther and Civil Rights Movement observed by millions generally Dec. 26th-January 1st.
Kwanzaa literally means "first fruits" and for many cultures is a time to reflect on "Nguza saba", the seven empowering principles of the holiday: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Visit the official Kwanzaa website HERE to learn more about its principles and its founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga.
But before we get to Kwanzaa, we are bombarded with Christmas movies on the big and small screens. "Miracle on 37th Street", "Claus", "Frosty The Snowman" are traditional American classics during the festive season. And now thanks to award winning author and filmmaker, M. K. Asante Jr., Kwanzaa has it own timeless movie, "The Black Candle" ready to become the new film tradition of the holiday season.
Featuring narration from renown poet, Dr. Maya Angelou, and music from multiple Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, Nnenna Freelon, "The Black Candle" takes us back to the beginnings of the "first fruits" here in America with rare archival footage and insightful commentary then brings us forward with a new cinematic perspective.
But Asante didn't just focus his lens on America, the film was shot around the world including Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, giving audiences a global understanding of just how inclusive the observance of Kwanzaa can really be.
During his recent visit to LA I talked with Asante, aka "M.K.", about his empowering new project, independent filmmaking,how the principles of Kwanzaa influenced the Obama campaign, and more. Take a listen!
Visit "The Black Candle" website to get more information about the film and screenings. And learn more about "M.K." and his other award-winning films on his site, www.asante.info