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Kwanzaa music, art event showcases holiday and local talent

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kwanzaa celebrations are in full swing, and supporters say it’s not a Holiday just for Black and brown people. But it’s something the whole city can get behind. The Indianapolis Kwanzaa Committee has been working hard to cultivate a weeks worth of Kwanzaa centered events. They say it’s a part of a growing effort to raise awareness and offer a space for people to come together.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa aren’t just elements of the holiday. They are lessons that come along with the lighting of the Kinara candles.

“It’s really important that we have representation in our community. And this event we try to do the best we can to represent all that come through,” said one of the Kwanzaa event organizers Jarrod Dortch.

For today’s lesson, the public library’s Center for Black Literature is the backdrop. Showcasing African American artists from multiple mediums, while creating a safe space for the city to embrace culture they may not typically experience. Aasha Watkins doesn’t celebrate the holiday but celebrates its growing popularity.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing because people get to express themselves, not only through their culture,” Watkins said.

Founded in 1966, Kwanzaa in part served as an alternative to Christmas with many families now celebrating both. This is the second year for Dortch’s Black art and music event.

“As a member of the 18 Art Collective– we did the Black Lives Matter mural in 2020. And since that time, I’ve really been focused on doing things that brings art to people,” Dortch said.

This year partnering with Indianapolis Kwanzaa Committee to build a weeks work of Kwanzaa centered events. Saying a city the size of Indianapolis has room to see broader celebrations.

“I’ve grown interest definitely. But I also come here to educate myself on what the whole meaning of Kwanzaa,” Watkins said.

Adding, that holding an event like this in the heart of the city, shows everyone there’s space for all cultures.